In December of last year, two people were killed and another two wounded when a gunman opened fire in a crowded New York deli. In February of 2020, five died at the Molson Coors building in Milwaukee, WI, when a man with two handguns opened fire. In August of 2019, a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, TX, left 23 people dead and another 23 injured. Unfortunately, these are not isolated occurrences. Active shooter incidents are happening every day throughout the country and the data suggests that while some industries face greater risk than others, all organizations must recognize an unfortunate reality: no company is exempt from the potential threat of an act of violence occurring on their premises.
The FBI defines an active shooter incident as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” From 2000–2020, 373 active shooter incidents occurred resulting in 3,015 casualties. Of the 40 active shooter incidents in 2020, more than half (24) occurred in areas of commerce and 19 in business environments open to the public. Whether it is a targeted or random attack, the first line of defense is always preparedness. As a leader in high consequence threat protection, MSA Security® deploys personnel and provides security solutions to clients worldwide to minimize risk and protect life and property. We consulted with these highly trained MSA specialists for more detail on three key areas of active shooter preparedness.
Prevention - Timely information and trusted intelligence allow businesses to shape more informed decisions and mitigate risk. Businesses must know the threat and the vulnerability.
- A comprehensive vulnerability assessment will highlight areas of exposure within your physical infrastructure and provide a roadmap for improvements.
- Due diligence, such as screening and background checks for new hires and vetting of potential partnerships and third-party relationships will identify red flags.
- Employees often ignore hints of imminent danger and fail to alert the workplace because they consider their work environment safe and secure, despite any true risk exposure. Empowering employees who see something to say something will allow potential issues to be addressed before becoming problematic.
Protection – It is important to develop a thorough Emergency Operations Plan in advance of any incident and ensure that everyone in the organization is familiar with the plan and trained in proper response protocol. Fifteen minutes is the average time between the initiation of an active shooter event and the arrival of law enforcement personnel. Businesses and employees must find a way to bridge this gap to preserve life. Every second counts. In fact, 60% of active shooter events conclude by the time police arrive. Proper, consistent and well-informed employee training that provides education on common reaction strategies, such as “run, hide, fight,” and discusses evacuation routes ahead of time will save lives.
Mitigation – The U.S. Department of Justice defines mitigation techniques as “the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an incident.” Every business can take important precautionary steps to reduce the likelihood of an active shooter incident. This includes the business threat assessment, due diligence, planning and training already mentioned. Near-real-time intelligence data is also a crucial capability that mitigates risk. Partner with an industry expert who can regularly comb through open-source materials to identify current and emerging security concerns near your people or business locations and combine that data with actionable analysis to support improved decision making.
In today’s threat landscape, the safest organizations are active, rigorous and vigilant on security. They are committed to proactive and recurrent assessments and desirous of implementing improved security processes. Staying ahead of emerging threats with a strong security program is truly non-negotiable.