Christine Spigai

A gunman entered the parking lot of a large supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22, 2021, killing 10 people. Three years later, active shooter events continue to be on the rise throughout the country, particularly for soft targets. Shopping malls, schools, houses of worship, theatres and offices are attractive to terrorists seeking to inflict mass harm. Today’s most persistent threats are not exclusive to firearms. For example, in our last blog, we explored the recent uptick in bomb threats aimed at these same soft targets. The significant risk of life loss, property damage and operational disruption are ongoing in today’s threat landscape.

To identify security considerations to successfully address these threats, we asked three MSA Security® subject matter experts for top takeaways.


Hugh O’Rourke, MSA Security Vice President, Consulting Services

  1. A Hardened Appearance

Creating a formidable appearance to your building, campus and perimeter is one of the most operationally efficient and cost-effective security measures to prevent hostile activity. Active patrol, camera surveillance, proper lighting and physical access systems serve as visual deterrents to bad actors.  Deterrence is the first element of the Physical Protection System.

  1. Well-cultivated Security Culture

According to the World Security Report 2023, 92% of Chief Security Officers expect to experience some form of internal threat in the next year. Fostering a security-aware culture within your organization is essential. This includes screening and background checks for new hires and vetting all potential partnerships. Empower employees to remain vigilant, informed and actively involved in security processes. Ensure employees know how and where to report security threats.


Justin Kelley, MSA Security® Vice President, Operations

  1. On-site Security Professionals

The FBI reports that nearly 70% of all active shooter incidents will conclude before police arrive. Reducing the time between incident initiation and first responder arrival is essential to safeguarding lives. Effective and proven tools, including firearms and explosive detection canines and well-trained, armed security professionals in plain clothes can provide a heightened security posture and help close that gap.

  1. Local Intelligence

Engage with local law enforcement and first responders to facilitate information exchange. By establishing an open dialogue with law enforcement, your organization can collect and share real-time intelligence for a true assessment of current risk. Partnering with outside experts who provide robust real-time intelligence on the ever-changing threat spectrum that may uniquely affect your organization can also prove a powerful tool.


Joe Beglane, MSA Security® Director, SmartTech®

  1. Comprehensive X-ray Screening

Any organization with significant visitor traffic or a high volume of package deliveries will benefit from proper X-ray screening to identify IEDs, weapons and other dangerous contraband. The innovative tactics of today’s terrorists are often no match for traditional screening solutions. Real-time access to experienced eyes is delivered at scale through MSA’s Emergency Operations Center and its patented SmartTech® technology.

  1. Ongoing Training

Risk comes in all shapes and sizes. X-ray screeners must not only know what to look for today but be prepared to accurately interpret tomorrow’s threat. This requires continued education, training and practice in identifying a very broad range of suspicious images. This boosts abilities and confidence.

Effectively managing security for soft targets is inherently challenging. These environments are generally open to the public with the intention of attracting large groups of people for business or recreation. Protecting people, property and assets requires acknowledging vulnerability gaps and taking the necessary steps to apply consistent solutions. To speak with one of our subject matter experts, email


Subscribe to Blog