An Active Shooter attack is best categorized as a cowardly and disgusting attack against innocent unsuspecting people, who are just doing normal everyday things. These attacks occur in shopping malls, schools, night clubs, outdoor concerts, open gatherings and within big-box retail stores.
Why is this happening? What type of security measures are needed to stop Active Shooters and minimize deaths?
Why is this happening?
There are a multitude of reasons claimed by past shooters: Mental Illness, Racism, Revenge, Anger: Whatever the reason, it’s inexcusable.
Several weeks ago, two Active Shooter / Mass Shootings occurred: one in Ohio and one in Texas, both on the same day. The two shooters could not be more different from one another. The Ohio shooter has been described as an “Elizabeth Warren-style Liberal”, very light on illegal immigration, as Warren endorsed decriminalizing illegal border crossings. In contrast, the El Paso shooter has been described as far-right white nationalist who, according to police, “wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.” My point is this: mental illness comes from all political parties, races, ethnicities, religions, shapes and sizes. Both suspects were and are mentally ill. For a person to take a belief as far as killing innocent people, that person is mentally ill without a doubt, in my humble opinion.
How many times have we heard the saying, “Going Postal?” This saying refers to modern day Workplace Violence and can be tied to defining “Active Shooter.” The saying, “Going Postal,” stems from several incidents involving postal workers killing supervisors and colleagues as far back as 1970 and as recently as 2017, when multiple people were killed in an act of violence at a postal facility. Each incident occurred after some type of discipline or termination, and one incident occurred because this worker’s supervisor changed his route. Let me say that again, the shooters supervisor changed his route. All of these shootings come from anger and the need for revenge. What is the Postal service doing to protect their employees? I can tell you this, there are not armed guards/ law enforcement posted in any of the post offices I have gone to in the last decade.
School shooting have reached epidemic proportions. Why? Mental illness, anger and revenge. What have the schools done to protect our children from active shooters. Well, the School Board talks about it a lot, but I don’t see armed security officers in the halls. Yes, each school has one School Resource Officer, but how effective is one SRO vs an active school shooter? Not very effective in stopping mass killings. Sometimes the SRO’s are not even on campus, or at the other end of the school. The SWAT team gets to the shooter before the SRO in situations like this.
As long as we have people getting angry and needing to get revenge, or that have untreated/undiagnosed mental illness, as long as we have racism and fundamental religious differences, we are going to have these shootings and other type of violence in our great country.
What type of security is needed to stop mass killings, or minimize deaths?
Well, the answer isn’t as cut and dried as you may think. First of all, the answer is not unarmed security officers. Let me be totally clear, unarmed security officers have their place. For example, one common duty for an unarmed officer is to control access to facilities of clients that are worried about burglaries after hours on their property. Unarmed security officers serve as a deterrent and they “Observe & Report” only. In retrospect, unarmed security officers are nothing more than another target in some circumstances. Unarmed security officers are not meant to stop or take on active shooters, they don’t have the training or equipment to do so. Using unarmed security officers in the correct role can be extremely beneficial to businesses and communities, if they are used in the wrong role, well, it can get them killed.
So, an armed security officer is the obvious choice to stop active shooters from committing mass murder, right? Well, armed officers are just one piece of the puzzle. Don’t worry, I will explain. Below is a check list and an explanation of each item.
What is needed to stop an active shooter?
Example, Super Walmart:
- Trained and Experienced ARMED Security Officers: *Former Law Enforcement and Military personnel with advanced tactical training and first aid/responder certified.* *Armed security officers with more than Five years’ experience as an armed officer with advanced tactical training and first aid/responder certified.
Security Companies can set up the tactical training, and first aid/first responder courses for quailed officers.
- Strategic personnel planning:
Covering one entrance with one armed officer is not a good strategic plan for a Super Wal-Mart. If someone starts shooting in the back of the store, how long will it take for that officer to respond? What if that one officer is the first victim, the whole store is now open for the active shooter to kill as many people as he can until police arrive.
*What do I suggest for a facility like a Super Wal-Mart?
During daytime or PEAK hours:
- Armed officers at every open entrance/exit in the store. Usually, there are Three (3) open entrances. If the door is locked/secured then you can exclude that door.
- A “Back of Store” armed officer
- A minimum of two armed Rovers walking through isles to ensure shopper safety inside the store. The shooter may not start shooting at the entrance, he/she may enter the store and start shooting in a busy isle.
- An armed officer (or two) in the parking lot patrolling in a vehicle
- One armed officer inside the front surveillance room (Spotter), this officer should also have an additional rifle (AR-15) in case the shooter isn’t just using a hand gun. The AR would not be visible to the public unless a shooting occurs. This officer would be responsible for spotting any potential shooter or suspicious persons coming in from the parking lot, or an active shooter inside the store.
*This coverage is for PEAK hours only and can be reduced for off PEAK hours to half staff or less. * Why? Because Active Shooters want as many “Kills” as they can get. Going to a Wal-Mart on a Wednesday between 12am – 5am is not going to afford them an opportunity to kill like going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday at 10am – 4pm would. Mass killers want a lot of victims, and a dozen shoppers in off peak hours would not be so appealing to them as a full store would be.
Strategic Response to an Active Shooter:
What is needed for a strategic response?
- Trained, Experienced, Armed Security Officers
- Communication: Walkie- Talkies/ Radios, with an ear piece so the suspect can’t hear what is being said.
- A Spotter (Surveillance room officer) in constant communication with all security personnel.
- An officer response plan to the activity (Active Shooter). How will the officers respond to the East, West, North, South Entrances if there is a shooter at one of those locations. What if the suspect starts shooting in isle 16? How will the officers respond? What ROUTE will they take as to not open themselves up to crossfire, or getting shot themselves by the shooter. This is where radio communication, a Spotter, and training comes into play.
- Is the officer on foot, Segway, or another form of transportation?
- If the officer arrives on a vehicle, like a Segway, where should he/she get off and strategically engage the shooter on foot?
- This takes training for all security personnel, this is NOT an hour of training and go. How many hours can the company plan on for training per month?
- The spotter, in the control room may send 4 officers to engage the shooter and the other officers to assist in evacuating customers and employees.
- Who calls the police? This needs to be established on each shift.
- When does the Spotter leave the surveillance room with the AR-15? Where does that officer go to get a good shot? This has got to be pre-planned and training has to be continuous.
What does this mean for the client and contract security company:
- The client has to realize what the armed uniformed security guard is there for, they are not there to catch shoplifters or to do special projects for management.
- The client must make accommodations for the security team. Sharing the surveillance room with company LP employees, training times and use of facility (usually off peak times).
- Both the client and security contractor must make sure the employee turnover rate is low. The client will have to pay enough on the billing rate to allow this to happen. The security company will have to understand, they can’t lowball employees. This could be implemented by putting these terms and conditions on the contract. Also, the client should have access, upon request, to the security contractors payroll information, for employees assigned to the client, to ensure the employees are being paid as to the contractual agreement.
- The security company needs to have knowledgeable, trained, certified staff (or contractors) available to train security staff, and conduct continuous training as scheduled.
- The client needs to understand this training benefits the company, their customers, and their employees and payment needs to be processed and sent to the vendor in a reasonable amount of time after receiving an invoice. Well trained security officers only make the clients security program better. It also prepares that program to act if an active shooter incident occurs.
Active shooter situations are getting worse, with the combination of previous mentioned issues occurring in society today. It is important for everyone to be vigilant to their surroundings when in public places. It is also important to tell security or management if you see something out of the ordinary, like a person wearing a trench coat in the middle of July hanging out in the parking lot. Unfortunately, some businesses do not currently have armed security and time will only tell if they add it or not. With time, companies will show us if they care about the safety of their customers and employees, and if they care about minimizing deaths and pain suffered by family members that have to bury a loved one who fell victim to an active shooter. Remember, it’s your choice on where you go shopping, send you kids to school, eat, watch a movie, and where you go out at night to have fun. All of these places should care about your safety, and if they don’t seem to care, you can always go somewhere else that does.
President & Managing Owner