Police response to Active Shooter Events (ASE) have become standardized in the years following Columbine. Since the Columbine ASE, dozens of ASE’s have provided law enforcement with a dramatic learning curve on how to respond and deal with these scenarios. However, the preparation and threat mitigation planning to avoid ASE’s is not yet standardized. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and various other federal law enforcement and non-governmental agencies have guidelines for ASE threat mitigation planning; however, these guidelines do not go far enough. We at Countermeasure Consulting Group, LLC have conducted countless security surveys and ASE threat mitigation planning at various venues to included: sprawling college campuses, large concert venues, and highly secured U.S government facilities. The following is what we have experienced.
You Can’t 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 competent and thorough advice and consultation. Providing those responsible for security an increased budget for ASE threat planning and mitigation will not close any security gaps nor provides a secure environment. Venue owners, administrators, and managers must take an active role and determine what level of funding is appropriate for their situation. Alternatively, providing limited or no funding for ASE threat planning and mitigation can be extremely dangerous, making your venue vulnerable to an ASE. Following an ASE, numerous inquiries will be made by journalists, politicians, stock-holders, investors, the public, employees, and attorneys for future litigation proceedings. They will ask tough questions and will demand answers. It will be almost impossible to explain why you didn’t provide any ASE threat mitigation and planning funding after an ASE event has occurred.
You Can’t Hire Your Way to Security
A quick check of LinkedIn will reveal thousands of security experts. However, a closer examination will reveal that often these experts have little to no relevant experience in the planning, reduction, or mitigation of security threats. In addition, simply hiring someone with experience as a police ofﬁcer, military, or as corporate security is often not enough.
Countermeasure Consulting Group, LLC is a veteran owned and operated company who appreciates the service of every member of the military and law enforcement community. However, when a company or organization is in the process of hiring someone responsible for security and active shooter threat mitigation, they should ensure the candidate has the appropriate background.
When hiring for security positions related to ASE threat planning and mitigation, 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 ASE’s?
- 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 likelihood of an ASE?
- Can you provide a thorough explanation of the three components of every ASE’s? (They should know these: 1. the shooter, 2. the stimulus or triggering event and 3. the environment or location)
If they are unable to answer these questions successfully and thoroughly, do not hire them no matter their background and qualiﬁcations.
Security Is Everyone’s Responsibility
Recent ASEs show that anyone can assist and save lives. Everyday janitors, teachers, and secretaries have displayed acts of heroism to save the lives of others. Any ASE plan should emphasize that everyone can and should contribute to active shooter prevention and security. For example:
- 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 or 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.
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. Numerous past ASE’s have revealed a pattern of distinct behaviors exhibited by the shooter prior to the event. Employees and community members should be instructed on how to identify and report suspicious or worrisome behavior of others in their work or venue community settings.. Consider establishing a workplace violence prevention program in consultation with mental health professionals. In addition, employees and other venue community members should learn what constitutes threatening or worrisome behavior at work or venue community settings.
Active shooter events and targeted violence can never be fully predicted or eliminated. However, we at Countermeasure Consulting Group, LLC believe that the likelihood of an ASE occurring can be greatly reduced by taking a proactive approach to prevention and training. Providing the appropriate funding to an ASE plan, hiring the right people, providing training to employees, and incorporating aspects of mental health components to the ASE plan are all appropriate steps to planning and prevention. Don’t wait until an event occurs to implement an ASE plan. It will be too late.
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