Risk Insights
June 8, 2022

Active Shooter Incidents – Staying Vigilant Through Turmoil

By Brian W. Lynch, RANE Executive Director of Safety + Security

There are those moments that change everything.  We’ve felt them; we remember where we were when we heard the news.  After absorbing the initial impact of events, those in leadership positions have to figure out how best to move forward–to grapple with what are often difficult choices and demands.  It happened again in Uvalde, Texas with the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, coming only days after a mass shooting in Buffalo, and days before another weekend of gun violence in cities across the country. After absorbing the initial impact of events, those in leadership positions have to figure out how best to move forward–to grapple with what are often difficult choices and demands.

As has been noted over the past several months and trending over the past several years, the risk is not only at the workplace but also at the mall, church gatherings, movie theaters, schools, parks, nightclubs, social and family gatherings, etc. (see FBI report Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2021). Real solutions demand a fact-based inquiry, but the causes are many and typically involve issues of mental health, perceived grievances, emotional responses to incidents which have occurred, and/or aspart of ongoing criminal activity.  For the immediate and near term, knowledge and preparation are key should we, unfortunately, find ourselves in such an event.

Planning and training are critical components of staying safe. For organizations, it is part of the duty-to-care on behalf of employees. For individuals, it can be part of personal safety and security training with a goal of answering the question, “do I know what to do?”  

Typically, an organization’s Global Security department will define the framework to protect its employees, executives, physical spaces, and sites.  Driven by established priorities and an intelligence program, the firm will develop its security game plans to ensure specific goals and objectives are accomplished. The specific plans are tailored according to the direct and indirect threats that apply to the firm, its industry, employees, executives, sites, or data.

Organizations and/or individuals should consider taking advantage of:

§  Employee Assistance Plans: Employees may feel stress from the recent active shooter incidents. Organizations should advise their employees of the company sponsored programs available to assist them with managing their anxiety and stress.

§  Workplace Safety/Active Shooter Training:  Organizations should provide and individuals should take advantage of company sponsored active shooter mitigation training.  Whether it be offered online or in person, this type of training will afford the individual actions to consider should they find themselves in an active shooter situation.  

§  Intelligence Program: The organization should confirm with their appropriate vendor partners that intelligence gathering is prioritized against threats from known subjects and/or organizations as well as identifying possible threatening actions by unknown subjects/organizations against the industry, the firm, its employees, and executives, or site locations.

§  Threat Management: Ensure all security staff are at a heightened sense of awareness on threat management and are retrained on procedures, including protocols to address threats against the organization or its employees and executives that are received in person, through the mail, via email, from social media, or by telephone.  Additionally, the firm’s Threat ManagementTeam should be laser focused on following through on each threat received by the firm, for appropriate review, analysis, and/or action towards its mitigation.

§  Street Sense Training:  Review available training to ensure you are as prepared as you can be while you go through everyday life. This training is not meant for you to walk around in a paranoid state but to train you to enter a state of relaxed awareness which can lead to enhanced personal safety and security. Some keys to consider:  being situationally aware; while traveling, having a heightened sense of alertness and awareness; removing yourself quickly and safely from protests and demonstrations; and knowing your options and risks in an active shooter situation.

§  Site Security:  All firms should revisit their security and contingency plans, ensuring that appropriate crisis plans are in place and recently tested.    

By following these guidelines, companies enhance their position to reduce the exposure risk to their employees and physical locations.  And for the individual, these suggested actions may provide the requisite knowledge to be able to answer the question,“what do I do.”

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