Police Responses to Active Shooter Events
Police responses to Active Shooter Events (ASE) have become standardized in the years following Columbine. Since the Columbine ASE there have been dozens of ASEs that have provided Law Enforcement with a dramatic learning curve on how to respond and deal with active shooters scenarios. However, the preparation and threat mitigation planning to avoid ASEs has not become standardized. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and various other federal law enforcement and non-governmental agencies have produced guidelines for ASE threat mitigation planning. But these guidelines do not go far enough. Countermeasure Consulting Group, LLC has conducted countless security surveys, and ASE threat mitigation planning at various venues. These venues have included sprawling college campuses, large concert venues, and highly secured U.S. government facilities. The following is what they have experienced.
You Cant Buy Your Way to Security
Too often, venue owners, administrators and managers falsely assume that the solution to providing a secure environment is by providing substantial funding to ASE planning and threat mitigation. No amount of funding can take the place of thorough and competent advice and consultation. Venue owners, administrators and managers must sit down and determine what level of funding is appropriate for their situation. Simply providing those responsible for security an increased budget for ASE threat planning and mitigation will not close any security gaps and will not provide a secure environment. You must take an active role in the process.
Alternatively, providing none or limited funding for ASE threat planning and mitigation is
extremely dangerous. Sooner or later your venue could be the location of an ASE. Numerous inquiries will be made after the event by journalists, politicians, stock-holders, investors, the public, employees and attorneys for future litigation proceedings. These individuals will ask you tough questions and will demand answers. It will be almost impossible to explain why you didn’t provide any ASE threat planning and mitigation funding after an ASE event has occurred.
You Cant Hire Your Way to Security
A quick check of LinkedIn will reveal that there are thousands of security experts. However, a closer examination will reveal that often these experts are have little or no actual experience in security threat planning, reduction and mitigation. Hiring someone with experience as a police officer, military, or as corporate security is often not enough. CMC is a veteran owned and operated company and we appreciate the service of every member of the military and law enforcement community. However, when a company or organization hires someone responsible for security and active shooter threat reduction and mitigation, they should ensure the candidate has an appropriate background. When hiring for security positions related to ASE threat planning and reduction, a candidate should be asked the following questions. How has your professional background prepared you for ASE threat planning and reduction? How much research and or reading have you done concerning ASEs? How many security reviews and or security advances have you done for large events, venues or public gatherings? How will you partner with our staff and or our community to ensure a safe working environment and help to reduce the chances of an ASE? Can you provide a thorough explanation of the three components of every ASEs (They should know these: 1. the shooter, 2. a stimulus or triggering event and 3. the environment or location). If they can’t answer these questions successfully and thoroughly, do not hire them. No matter what their background and qualifications.
Security Is Everyone’s Responsibility
Recent ASEs have shown that anyone can assist and save lives. Everyday janitors, teachers and secretaries have shown heroism to save the lives others. Any ASE plan should emphasize that everyone should and can contribute to security. Employees and members of a venue community should be instructed to report anything out of the ordinary. Everyone should be instructed to wear the appropriate credentials or identifications at all times. Every employee or member of a venue community should be part of the ASE plan and every employee should be taught Run, Hide, Fight, or a version of this appropriate to the venue community. And components of the ASE plan should be emphasized during security awareness training or ASE drills.
Take a Holistic Approach
Money and people are not the only components of an ASE plan. The most often overlooked component is the mental health component. As mentioned above, almost every ASE is the result of a pattern of distinct behavior patterns exhibited by the shooter prior to the event. Employees and community members should also be instructed to report suspicious or worrisome behavior of others. Consider establishing a workplace violence prevention program in consultation with mental health professionals. And employees and other venue community members should learn what constitutes threatening or worrisome behavior in work or venue community settings.
ASE and targeted violence can never be fully eliminated. Chris Grollnek believes that steps can be taken to greatly reduce the chances of an ASE occurring. This can be done by providing the appropriate funding to an ASE plan, hiring the right people, providing training to every employee, and incorporating aspects of mental health components to the ASE plan. Don’t wait until an event occurs to implement ASE plan. It will be too late.
Police Responses to Active Shooter Events