Active Shooter Recognition and Preparation
Most active shooters don’t attack abruptly as a response to a single incident or suddenly out of rage. In fact, they spend plenty of time planning the attack and developing their arsenal. The intense planning and preparation is the first unfortunate element leading to the “mass-casualty” nature of their crime. Fortunately, because these incidents often involve meticulous planning – target choice, weapons purchase, observation
According to a recent study by the FBI, there were 30 separate active shooter incidents in 2017 – the highest number ever recorded. These incidents significantly contribute to the expense of workplace violence – $120 billion annually and hundreds of millions for negligent security, and of course, the priceless loss of life. There are single factors that have been identified as red-flags, which based on recent history, have proven to be significant clues for identifying potential active shooters.
1. Firearms are most often legally obtained
2. Only 25% of shooters had a mental diagnosis
3. Shooters displayed 4-5 red-flags prior to the attack
4. Most shooters spend over 7 days planning – to 1 year
5. Many have adverse interpersonal issues and workplace grievances as triggers
It is important to become “situationally aware” of surroundings. To help ensure safety, it is necessary to consider the fact that an attack could occur at anytime, anywhere. This is especially true in commercial settings with large crowds. Tuning into suspicious behavior and red-flags is the first step of active shooter risk management and prevention. Regardless whether someone’s behavior exactly matches any of the above or other published recommendations, if a gut feeling exists where something doesn’t seem “right” and that feeling can’t be rationalized or forgot, make sure to report your observations to an employer or law enforcement official.
Active shooters spend time deciding where to carry out their act. During this time, they make the decision to kill as many people possible in the shortest amount of time. Many experts believe the decision to numb oneself and engage in violence is predicated from exposure to violent entertainment, video games and explicit images.
In accordance with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “How to Respond” protocol, the following red-flag warning signs can help identify someone becoming an active shooter:
1. Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
2. Unexplained increase in absenteeism, and/or vague physical complaints
4. Increased severe mood swings, and noticeably unstable or emotional responses
5. Increasingly talks of problems at home
6. Increase in unsolicited comments about violence, firearms, and other dangerous weapons and violent crimes
The stages of a shooter begin with the initial idea through the last shot fired. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office outlines the stages of an active shooter as the following:
1. Fantasy Phase
During the “fantasy” phase, the would-be shooter dreams of carrying out his act and achieving fame and attention.
2. Planning Phase
After the fantasy feelings are accepted and become achievable, they begin the who, what, where, when and why. Often, they script their actions and draw scenes.
3. Preparation Phase
This phase is for the gathering of necessary equipment and tools. It’s during this time that weapons and ammunition are purchased – several at a time and often hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
4. Approach Phase
This is the arrival period when the person enters or “sets up”. During this crucial time, notifying police or calling 911 is required to help stop the soon-to-be killer.
5. Implementation Phase
When the first shot’s fired, they continue until shooting until the run out of ammunition, commit suicide or are killed by the police. Receiving proper training helps ensure you have the skills and basic knowledge for responding to the active shooters.
The disturbed mind of an active shooter is a life-long culmination of issues and can take months or years to develop. Few individuals explode with the force or energy required to carry out mass shootings. The cause or “trigger” event when someone finally decides to commit a shooting is often just the “icing” on the cake or tip of the “iceberg”. These individuals live among us and with us each day, every day. Kick-start 2019 by doing your due diligence and working to ensure the safety of others with the training, plans
By partnering with knowledgeable experts, you can effectively address your exposure to active shooters and violence in the workplace. Contact us and receive a free security assessment.