The FBI defines an active shooter as one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. In just over two weeks, this country has seen four separate active shooter events unfold at four very different locations.
October 24th, 2018
A lone gunman who self-described as a paranoid schizophrenic attempted to enter the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, a predominantly black church in Jeffersontown, KY, during a church service. That attempt was thwarted by the fact the doors to the church were locked and secured during the service. He then proceeded to a local Kroger store where he gunned down two innocent victims, both black, before being engaged by an armed civilian in the parking lot causing him to flee. One victim was killed inside the store and the other was killed in the parking lot.
October 27th, 2018
A single shooter, hell bent on committing as much damage and death as possible, stormed the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, and immediately opened fire. The shooter killed eleven people and wounded six others, four of which were law enforcement officers that responded to the threat and engaged the gunman. The shooting rampage lasted approximately ten minutes and was followed by ensuing shootouts with arriving officers. This caused a significant delay in law enforcement’s ability to make entry and it was over forty minutes before the first officers were able to reach the victims. The entire event lasted one hour and eighteen minutes before the offender was eventually taken into custody.
November 2nd, 2018
A lone perpetrator carrying a duffle bag entered a Hot Yoga studio in Tallahassee, FL. He immediately retrieved a handgun from the bag and began firing at the occupants of the studio. A total of six victims sustained gunshot wounds and another victim was pistol whipped as he fought against the gunman who ultimately took his own life. Two of the victims died from their injuries.
November 7th, 2018
A single male shooter walked into the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA, where a “college country night” was being held. Armed with a .45 caliber handgun, he immediately shot the unarmed security person and then began shooting people at random after throwing a smoke grenade onto the dance floor. As the first law enforcement officers arrived and entered, he fired on them as well, killing one, and eventually turned the gun on himself. A total of twelve victims died as a result of the gunfire.
Had you found yourself inside that grocery store, that synagogue, that yoga studio, or that bar, would you know exactly what to do and, more importantly, would you actually do it under the stress of an active shooter event? Had you found yourself trapped in that synagogue with wounded victims, would you know how to treat their injuries to potentially save a life?
The only part of our brain that actually works during a high stress event is called our primitive brain which is where fight, flight, or freeze exists. Fine motor skills and complicated maneuvers are typically unattainable during a critical incident such as an active shooter. The stress that we endure during such an event, when our life is in imminent danger, is often exacerbated by the reality of seeing people gunned down in front of you. This extreme fear is often crippling and leads people into a state of denial and/or panic that causes them to shut down and do nothing. The great thing about our primitive brain is that it can be trained to respond immediately during one of these high stress critical incidents. The ability to instantly take decisive action during a critical incident will significantly increase your chances of surviving the event and this is accomplished through training.
EVERY organization, business, church, school, venue, and corporation need to be actively engaged in training ALL personnel on specifically how to respond to an active shooter or mass casualty event. These incidents are getting worse, more frequent, and they are not going away.
In every active shooter event, there is undoubtedly a significant time gap from when the shooting begins to the arrival of law enforcement. Our training fills that gap. For more information about our training for your personnel and how we can help your organization create a safer environment, give us a call at 615-236-6484 or go to defendsystems.com.
While I would never advise a school or any other organization not to improve their physical security, it would undoubtedly not be first on my list of recommended safety and security enhancements. Although improving physical security is very important for a variety of reasons and is typically selected as the first option in response to calls for an increase in school security, Active Shooter Training for school personnel is my first recommendation.
Why we start with active shooter training...
Unfortunately in our world today, these calls for action are the result of some type of school shooting tragedy. They are not a result of some random property crime or simple assault that occurred on one of our campuses. When is the last time there was an outcry for increased security due to a laptop being stolen from a school’s computer lab or because two teenagers got into a fistfight? It just does not happen. We are accustomed to accepting these types of crimes and incidents as part of life that occur regularly and therefore we are desensitized to them. There is no feeling of shock, horror, or sadness because someone spray painted the front of the school.
Sadly, we as a nation all feel the shock, horror, and sadness every time there is a school shooting. No matter how frequent these become, they still shock the senses of the majority of society and inevitably lead to calls for improving school security. The demand for security improvements typically results in some physical improvement such as adding surveillance cameras, metal detectors, high-security glass, or even the addition of a school resource officer.
The case for starting with Active Shooter Training for personnel and staff...
While these are all certainly steps in the right direction, any physical security improvement should be secondary to extensive active shooter training for faculty and staff. The reason for this is quite simple. Physical security measures will not prevent the majority of school shooting attacks. It is an unfortunate fact that the vast majority of these attacks are launched by current or former students who possess the inside knowledge to exploit the security vulnerabilities and gain access to the school.
All school personnel should be armed with the knowledge of what to do during an attack no matter what part of the campus they are on and no matter who is or is not with them. Having very specific active shooter response plans for every classroom, office, gymnasium, bathroom, locker room, and any other part of the facility is critical to saving lives because it allows trained personnel to respond instantly with a very specific plan and purpose. Every campus layout and school floor plan is unique and therefore should have plans and protocols specifically designed for that facility.
All active shooters understand that once they fire that first shot, the clock has started. They accept that there will be a very swift and powerful law enforcement response and they do not care. They do care about committing maximum carnage during that small window of time and that is exactly what they do and when they do it. Once law enforcement personnel arrive, they will be confronted very swiftly and their rampage will be stopped or they will flee prior to law enforcement arrival. All that being said, the focus needs to be on that window of time from when the first shot is fired until the event is over. The event is not over until the shooter has been neutralized and all persons in need of medical aid are in the care of medical professionals.
The effects of Active Shooter Training for school personnel...
Training school personnel on best practices of avoiding gunfire, proper barricading, counter assault maneuvers, and hemorrhage control techniques is the most critical element to improving school security. (Although every victim of an active shooter attack cannot possibly be saved, the grim reality is that several victims of past attacks could have been saved had personnel known simple bleeding control techniques and had the tools to apply those techniques on site.)
Training faculty and staff to respond to these events immediately and with a very specific plan and purpose will undoubtedly mitigate casualties and increase the survivability rate should an attack occur. While we will, unfortunately, never be able to completely prevent these attacks from occurring, we can absolutely tilt the survivability odds in our favor. Active shooters could care less about your physical security measures because they typically have nothing to do with slowing them down once they are already inside. What they are not prepared for is resistance.
In every active shooter event, there is undoubtedly a significant time gap from when the shooting begins to the arrival of law enforcement. Our active shooter training fills that gap. For more information about our training for your school staff and faculty and how we can help your school create a safer environment, give us a call at 615-236-6484 or go to defendsystems.com.
It seems as though we can’t let even a week go by in America before we hear about another school shooting. There are several amazing accounts of extremely heroic police officers engaging said shooters and stopping them from doing further damage.
Case in point occurred at Great Mills High School in Maryland on March 20th of this year. In that incident, the shooter, an enrolled student, approached the victim, 16 year old Jaelynn Willey, and fired one round striking her in the head. The bullet also struck another student in the leg and he was able to take cover in a classroom. Deputy Blaine Gaskill was on campus and was immediately alerted to the shooting.
Deputy Gaskill responded to the scene and immediately engaged the shooter firing one shot, striking the suspect’s weapon, while the shooter also fired simultaneously ending his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot. The gunshot wound to the head eventually proved to be fatal for Jaelynn Willey who had recently ended a relationship with the shooter. Deputy Gaskill’s swift and deliberate response certainly saved lives and prevented further carnage.
Another tremendous example of school resource officers engaging an active shooter threat was in the tragedy at Santa Fe High School in Texas. In that case the shooter concealed a Remington 870 shotgun and a .38 caliber revolver under a large coat and entered the school. As classes began, he opened fire in the art complex where he ultimately killed eight students and two teachers. Officers arrived at the building within minutes and engaged the suspect in a shootout that lasted approximately twenty five minutes. The immediate response by those heroic officers undoubtedly saved countless lives.
Both of these incidents are excellent examples of the tremendous difference a properly trained and committed school resource officer can make in the lives of the students and faculty that they strive to protect every day. They are also tragic examples of the commitment of the shooters to inflict their damage regardless of the presence of a school resource officer as well as their detachment from the value of human life.
In both of these cases as well as the in the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, the shooters KNEW there was an SRO on campus and did not care. These shooters have become so detached at the point of the attack that the thought of being engaged by the SRO does not matter. They typically plan to die as part of the event anyway. Furthermore, the amount of damage they are able to inflict prior to law enforcement arrival is immense and deserves more focus.
In the Great Mills High School incident, the elapsed time from when the first shot was fired to when the shooter was confronted by the on-campus SRO was three minutes and six seconds. In the Parkland massacre, the elapsed time from when the first shot was fired to when Deputy Peterson arrived at the building, albeit never going in, was two minutes and eleven seconds. We also now know that by the time Peterson arrived at the building, twenty four people had been shot and eleven of those were killed. In the Santa Fe High School shooting, we know that the on-campus SRO arrived at the art building, where the gunman had already killed ten people and wounded several others, within about four minutes from the time the first shot was fired. That SRO and at least two other officers engaged the gunman in a lengthy shootout before the gunman surrendered.
All three incidents are excellent examples of heroism, bravery, and determination by law enforcement. However, they are also unfortunate examples of how much damage can be inflicted in a matter of minutes by a determined gunman regardless of the law enforcement presence on campus.
When active shooter events unfold, seconds matter. Properly trained faculty and staff can absolutely respond to an event in seconds and take critical actions that not only save lives but increase survivability among those that have been injured. As a society, we need to place a tremendous amount of focus on the training of all school personnel. As evidenced by these incidents, waiting for the SRO to arrive and stop the threat is not an effective plan. Professionally trained staff can make all the difference because they can be properly equipped with a solid plan of action as well as the knowledge and ability to prevent additional damage and save lives.
When that first shot is fired, what’s your plan?
In every active shooter event, there is undoubtedly a significant time gap from when the shooting begins to the arrival of law enforcement. Our training fills that gap. For more information about our training for your personnel and how we can help your school create a safer environment, give us a call at 615-236-6484 or go to defendsystems.com.
Three Shocking Facts about the Florida Shooting Timeline
The tragic event that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School still grips the attention of the entire nation as we attempt to discern where we have failed so greatly that another active shooter attack has occurred at one of our most vulnerable institutions. The list of things that went wrong and the systems that failed in this case are too numerous to list and essentially created the perfect storm of failures that allowed this horrific incident to take place. Much focus will remain on prevention of these incidents as it should, however no amount of focus and determination will ever completely stop these attacks from occurring. The very saddening and tragic reality is that mass casualty attacks like this are not going away. The timeline of this event sheds some significant light on several disheartening realities of this and other active shooter incidents.
The average response time for law enforcement to arrive to an active shooter event is three minutes. In this case, Deputy Peterson, the SRO assigned to this school, was on campus when the attack began and responded immediately to the building. That response alone took two minutes and eleven seconds. Assuming he had actually entered the building and done his job of confronting and eliminating the threat, it could have easily been an additional thirty seconds to one minute for him to locate and engage the shooter in that three story building where the shooter was on the move. The actions taken during that critical time can and do make all of the difference when it comes to increasing the chances of survivability during these chaotic attacks.
The second elapsed time of significance during this event is the amount of time that the shooter actually conducted the ongoing attack. He was able to engage in active killing and massive carnage for six minutes and 2 seconds before he decided to stop on his own. The fact that the number of victims remained in the double digits is in and of itself a miracle considering the length of this attack. To see what amount of destruction can be done in the typical three minute response time window, watch this video for your reality check.
The third extremely significant elapsed time from Parkland is the amount of time it took before the first team of law enforcement officers entered the building to potentially engage the suspect. Eleven minutes and fifteen seconds elapsed from the time that the first shot was fired by the suspect until the first team of law enforcement entered the building to search for and neutralize the shooter. Of course we all know now that the shooter had fled before then but that information was unknown at the time. Several elements of chaos and confusion erupted during this incident which significantly contributed to this delayed response by law enforcement.
My point in all of this is not to criticize law enforcement or play Monday morning quarterback on what should have been done differently. I simply want to illustrate for you that these events are filled with chaos and confusion even for the highly trained expert first responders. My point is to bring awareness to the fact that every organization, business, school, and house of worship, needs to be doing more than planning to hide and wait for the cops to save you. You must be actively engaged in formulating your own intruder action plans as well as practicing those plans. Proper previous training can embed the seed of critical stress response that will allow our brains and our bodies to act as one in response to a threat. Decisive action is a vitally important step in increasing survivability during a critical incident. The only way to force the body into immediate decisive action is by having a plan that has already been embedded that can and will be recalled at that extremely important time. Whatu2019s your plan?
To learn more about improving your physical security, training for a critical incident, or obtaining an evaluation for your school, church, business, or facility, please visit our website at www.defendsystems.com or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping all organizations achieve real security.
One historical fact about 2017 is that it was a grim reminder that active shooter and mass casualty incidents are on the rise in America. The staggering number of casualties, the vast amount of locations, and the varied motivations of the attackers are all reasons that our mindset as a society should be changing. It is still unthinkable to believe that enough evil exists inside some people to commit these heinous acts, but the seemingly endless news cycle of violence remains a stark reminder that there are truly evil people among us.
In the aftermath of every active shooter and mass casualty attack, most people immediately search for a motive and become hyper-focused on determining the “why”. The truth is this, active shooters and terrorists all have varied motivations and triggers and attempting to determine what these are for each incident will not prevent the next tragedy. Beyond the increasing number of attacks and the vast number of victims during the last year, what is even more alarming is the number of different locations where these incidents occurred.
Here are seven critical reminders about why 2017 should motivate us to action:
- Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, Alexandria, VA – A lone gunman opened fire on lawmakers and aids who were participating in a baseball practice in preparation for an upcoming charity game. Capitol police officers assigned to a security detail for Representative Steve Scalise returned fire and engaged the gunman. Two Alexandria Police officers also arrived and continued to engage the suspect in a gunfight that lasted roughly ten minutes. The suspect was shot by police and later died at the hospital. A total of four victims were shot by the gunman, all of them survived.
- Aztec High School, Aztec, NM – A 21-year-old former student gained access to the school by disguising himself as a student during normal student arrival. He wore a backpack which contained a 9mm handgun and made his way to the bathroom to prepare for his rampage. After classes began he exited the bathroom and shot and killed two students. The school went on immediate lockdown and his access to other students was thwarted. The shooter then took his own life.
- Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, New York, NY – A former doctor and ex-employee of the hospital, armed with an assault rifle, opened fire on the 16th and 17th floor of the facility. The gunman killed a doctor, wounded six other people, and attempted to set himself on fire before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.
- UPS Facility, San Francisco, CA – A disgruntled employee armed with two pistols began shooting his coworkers during a morning meeting at the facility. The gunman killed four people and wounded two others before being confronted by police at which time he took his own life.
- First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, TX – A single lunatic gunman opened fire on churchgoers who were attending Sunday morning services. The gunman was eventually confronted and shot twice by a neighbor to the church as he was fleeing. The suspect fled in his vehicle and eventually crashed at which time he shot himself in the head. The suspect killed 26 people, ranging in age from 18 months to 77 years, and wounded 20 others in his rampage. A total of fifteen empty magazines were located inside the church, each of which had a 30 round capacity.
- Fiamma Awning Company, Orlando, FL – A former disgruntled employee entered the business through a back door armed with a handgun and a large hunting knife. He began shooting several former co-workers with most of them being shot in the head and some, multiple times. Police arrived within two minutes and prepared to enter the building at which time the suspect shot himself. A total of five people were shot and killed during the attack.
- Route 91 Harvest Festival, Las Vegas, NV – A lone gunman hell-bent on executing as many innocent people as possible, opened fire from his 32nd-floor hotel room that overlooked the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Utilizing several rifles and magazines, he shot indiscriminately into the crowd of concertgoers killing 58 people and injuring 546. The shooter fired over 1,100 rounds during the attack and ultimately committed suicide as police officers closed in on his location.
These seven incidents are fundamental examples of why EVERY organization should be training to deal with an active shooter or mass casualty incident. These cowardly attacks have no bias or consistent methodology as to the location or targeted victims. Every shooter has a different motive or perceived reason as to why they rationalize their actions and they typically PLAN TO DIE. The truth is this, it can happen ANYWHERE, ANYTIME and to ANYONE. What’s your plan?
To learn more about improving your physical security, training for a critical incident, or obtaining an evaluation for your school, church, business, or home, please visit our website at www.defendsystems.com or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping all organizations achieve real security.
Although I am an advocate for increasing and strengthening the security of your home all of the time, the Christmas holiday season is a very particular time of the year to focus on home security. Whether it be because so many of us travel away from home to visit loved ones or because there are a larger number of valuables in the home, burglars and thieves tend to capitalize on this time of year. It is quite common for some jurisdictions to have up to a 20% increase in home burglaries during the month of December. Implementing the following home security measures can greatly decrease your chances of falling victim to an intruder this holiday season.
- Request extra patrol. When you are traveling away from home, call your local police department and request that they conduct extra patrols in your neighborhood. Not only are they glad to do this, the obvious and physical law enforcement presence in your neighborhood sends a strong message to any potential criminal looking for his next target.
- Have and TEST an alarm system. Both alarm systems and surveillance cameras have come a long way in affordability and ease of installation. However, only 17% of homes have a working burglar alarm. Notice I said WORKING. People often get lulled into a false sense of security and routine when they arm and disarm their alarm system each day and they assume it is working properly. When is the last time that you tested your alarm system to make certain that it is communicating with the central monitoring station? This should be done on a regular basis but must certainly be done PRIOR to leaving your home for a trip. If you don’t have an alarm system and feel that it is not in your budget at this time, fake it. Place alarm signs and decals on both the front and back of your home regardless of whether or not you have a system. This alone may send a potential burglar on to the next house.
- Install digital timers. Whether it be for your Christmas light display and/or indoor lighting in your home, the goal is to have it appear active and occupied. Most burglars seek to avoid confrontation and are most often looking for homes that are unoccupied. Make yours appear occupied by use of digital timers. Digital timers, unlike the old manual push button ones, allow you to change the lighting schedule each day. Varying the lighting schedule and theme makes it appear as though the home is occupied. Lights that come on and go off at the exact same time each day, while helpful, don’t send a realistic message that people are home and active.
- Stop the mail. When leaving home for any trip, put a hold on your mail and packages or have a trusted neighbor collect them for you. Packages stacked at the front door for several days or an overflowing mailbox are both clear signals to thieves that you are away and that no one is looking after your home.
- Use discretion on social media. We have all become so dependent on our smart devices and social media platforms as a means to stay connected with friends, family, and the latest current events. However, broadcasting to the entire world that you are traveling and away from home for Christmas this year is not the best or the brightest idea. Criminals may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer but they are good gamblers who are constantly weighing the risk. In their minds, a large amount of risk to them is mitigated if you are 700 miles away from your home when they decide to burglarize it.
In light of the fact that a home burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the United States, implementing these security measures can stack the odds in your favor so that you are far less likely to become a victim this holiday season. To learn more about obtaining a security evaluation, training for a critical incident, or strengthening the security of your home, school, church, or business, please visit our website at www.defendsystems.com or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping people achieve real security.
Click here for more tips on ways to plan for security needs by implementing protocols.
Protocols, training and persistence saved the lives of countless children at Rancho Tehama Elementary School in Corning, California. Another lunatic gunman began selecting seemingly random targets to kill in an apparent psychotic rage. He eventually set his sights on entering the elementary school at the Rancho Tehama Reserve but that attempt was thwarted by the simple yet effective decision to place the school on lockdown.
In the active shooter incident at Columbine High School, not a single locked door was penetrated by the shooters. Further proof that something so simple can be so effective during an active shooter incident. These gunmen typically come prepared to create the maximum amount of carnage with a large amount of ammunition and weaponry. However, they typically do not come prepared, physically or mentally, to breach locked or fortified doors. I often reiterate that these active shooters seek maximum carnage AND MINIMUM RESISTANCE. The gunman in this case met immediate resistance at the school and immediately chose another path for his rampage.
Faculty members reported hearing gunfire approximately a quarter mile away from the school and immediately took action. Their training and protocols instantly took over and allowed their brains to process the noise as gunfire instead of fireworks as is so often the case.
Many times our brains immediately try and process certain stimuli from our environment as something familiar and safe instead of processing it as something more sinister and unsafe. What allows our brains to process these things correctly is training and planning in advance. It is very difficult, if not almost impossible, for our brains to recall anything complicated during a critical incident. Simply put, our stress response won’t allow it. However, previous planning and training allows us to overcome several of our bodies’ stress responses during a traumatic event. This is exactly how police officers and soldiers are able to operate successfully in the most critical and traumatic situations. Many times they do not have time to think, they must simply respond to whatever they are faced with instantaneously with no time to process what they are seeing, hearing or feeling.
I cannot reiterate this enough: ALL schools, churches, and businesses need to have a plan to deal with critical incidents and potential intruders. Having a plan is a phenomenal start, however you must also PRACTICE that plan. The goal is to practice it enough that your brain and your body will both respond to an event instead of simply reacting. A response is typically pre-planned where a reaction is simply a moment in time reflection of what your brain is processing at that moment.
In today’s world of lunatic psychopaths gunning down multiple random victims, it is time to shift our focus. Instead of trying to predict the where and when of the next attack, we must focus on hardening potential targets as well as a implementing a planned response. We would all love to have a solution to stop the next mass casualty incident but we all know that is not the reality. These attacks will undoubtedly continue and we all have a responsibility to focus more on the safety and security of our schools, churches, homes and businesses.
To learn more about obtaining a security evaluation, training for a critical incident, or strengthening the security of your school, church, or business, please visit our website at www.defendsystems.com or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping all organizations achieve real security.
It is astonishing to see that we have arrived at a point in this country where an innocent group of people can no longer worship in church together, attend a country music festival, or simply have softball practice, without fear of some crazed gunman opening fire. I frequently refer to the world today as “dangerously developing” for this very reason.
What we know about the shooting...
The facts surrounding the horrific attack at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs are relatively clear at this point. A lone gunman, armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and a handgun, casually parked his vehicle across the street and began walking towards the church building firing his rifle into the building. Upon entering the building, he continued his indiscriminate rampage by executing any person he could get his sights on, to include an 18 month old child. The killing continued as he met no armed resistance from within the building and sought maximum carnage. It was the heroic act of a neighbor to the church that cut the carnage short after that neighbor retrieved his own rifle and engaged the suspect causing the suspect to flee in is vehicle. That Good Samaritan as well as another passerby gave chase and pursued the suspect vehicle until the gunman lost control and crashed. The gunman was eventually pronounced dead at the scene of the crash from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Waiting for first responders is no longer enough...
The death toll at the church stands at 26 people ranging in age from 18 months old to 77 years old. Twenty-three people died inside the church, two outside the church and one at the hospital. Why is this important? Because it illustrates my point that an enormous amount of death and destruction can and does occur long before first responders arrive. In this incident, the two heroic citizens that chased down the gunman had to direct law enforcement to their location where the suspect vehicle crashed only minutes after the shooting first began.
Let me be clear, I am not knocking our law enforcement and first responders. They are amazing people that risk their lives for every one of us every single day. However, they cannot be everywhere they are needed instantaneously, although, I know that every cop in America wishes he or she were in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday morning. The days of relying on law enforcement to get there to stop an incident are over. The average police response time to an active shooter is three minutes. In a critical incident, that will be the most important three minutes of your life.
Lets send a message...
At the end of the day, we need to accept this very simple fact: There are mentally deranged individuals among us who will continue to prey on targets that they perceive as weak. Every citizen of this country needs to begin to take a serious look at personal safety. It is passed time for each and every one of us to seek ways to make our businesses, our churches, our schools, and our homes a more difficult target for those seeking to victimize and inflict harm. Whether you decide to hire a professional to evaluate your facility and train your personnel or simply become more vigilante about your security protocols, send a message. Send a message that says there are no victims here. I am a firm believer in the fact that there is no such thing as a fair fight; in my mind, the only fair fight is the one that I win, every time.
Our mindset has got to change... now.
If you want to learn more about strengthening the security presence at your church or business, go to defendsystems.com or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping organizations achieve real security in this dangerously developing world.
There is quite a bit of focus these days on the fact that corporations, churches, businesses and other organizations need to focus more time and resources on preparing for a critical incident such as an active shooter. I couldnu2019t agree more as I am very passionate about this fact. However, the single most critical organization that needs to focus A LOT of time and energy into critical incident and active shooter preparation is our schools. Whether it is a crazed gunman, an extremist terrorist, or the lunatic ex-spouse of a staff member, the threats to our schools are real and are not going away.
It was in April of this year when the ex-husband of Karen Brown, a special education teacher in San Bernardino, entered her classroom and gunned her down while she was teaching. He also struck two students in the process, killing one, before turning the gun on himself. In the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, the shooter wandered the school executing victims for 11 minutes before being encountered by the police and taking his own life. All of his victims were shot between 3 and 11 times EACH. These are two starkly different incidents with very different shooters behind the gun. Their motives and intended targets in both incidents were vastly different yet the result was still the same. Innocent lives were taken by crazed gunmen on school grounds and the existing security policies and measures failed.
Outside of the existing potential threats previously mentioned, our schools have to begin considering that they qualify as both a soft target and a high value target to terrorist organizations. Both terrorists and active shooters alike seek maximum carnage with minimum resistance and our schools would traditionally provide both to these deranged individuals. Although police response times to active shooter events have improved greatly, it could still be the most important three minutes of your life.
Here are five crucial things every school should be doing to improve their security.
Consistently secure all buildings. This may seem simple and elementary but it can be a game changer. One door left unlocked and unattended could make a life a death difference. In the Columbine High School shooting, not a single locked door was breached by the shooters. In the San Bernardino incident, the gunman attempted to enter a side door where he would go unnoticed but it was locked and he was forced to enter the main entrance. Although their security policy still failed, the incident could have been much worse had he entered undetected. Even on the most beautiful of days, keep all classroom and building doors secured and locked. You are sending a message to anyone seeking to infiltrate your campus.
Conduct regular and visible patrols. This task should be shared by staff and faculty so that everyone participates in proactively creating a secure environment. Furthermore, the more personnel involved, the better. This also sends a message to any potential intruders that you have multiple people involved in securing your campus and that they will meet resistance. If ANY unknown or suspicious person is identified on campus or in a building, then you MUST confront them. Confront them IMMEDIATELY and ASSERTIVELY and preferably in pairs if the personnel is available. When any criminal is seeking a victim, they are looking for just that, a victim. Being assertive and not avoiding the situation communicates clearly that your campus is not a soft target.
Get a threat assessment and security evaluation done for your particular campus. Every school building and campus is different and will have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to achieving physical security. There are also several ways to advantageously exploit certain features of particular buildings and construction materials during a critical incident. Hiring a professional to evaluate your facility can make all the difference when it comes to critical incidents.
Have a plan. This also sounds elementary and obvious but I have been astounded at the number of school personnel I have spoken with that donu2019t have a real plan. Unfortunately today our schools face multiple threats from both nature and man and having specific plans for those events and your particular campus are extremely important.
Waiting for the School Resource Officer to handle the situation is NOT a plan. Although SROs are an outstanding resource for schools, they cannot be everywhere all of the time. Even if your campus is small and it only takes one minute for the SRO to get anywhere on campus, one minute is an eternity during an active shooter event. Every school, campus, and faculty composition is different so having a customized plan creates an outstanding advantage when seconds count.
Practice and train frequently. When in danger, the human brain goes directly into survival mode. We cannot reason, our only instinct is to survive. When we do this, we have one of three reactions, fight, flight or freeze. These are primitive instincts that have kept our species alive for thousands of years, but they are just that: primitive. Our survival instincts can be programmed to change the way we respond under critical stress levels. The ONLY way to do this is through training and repetition. During any critical incident most people will have some sort of reaction, but prior training allows you to RESPOND.
To learn more about obtaining a security evaluation, training for a critical incident, or strengthening the security of your school or campus, please visit our website at www.defendsystems.com or give us a call at 615-236-6484.
We are passionate about helping schools achieve real security.
“1 October” will forever be synonymous with the most horrific and deadly mass shooting in American history. Almost two weeks has passed since that incredibly evil attack suddenly changed every Americans’ sense of safety and security and many questions still go unanswered. The motive remains completely undetermined, the timeline is foggy at best, and the puzzle pieces of “how” are just beginning to fall in place. Liability and responsibility are being bounced around from MGM Resorts, to the Las Vegas Police Department, to the gun lobby in America like a pinball.
As humans, it is in our nature to feel the need to hold something or someone accountable for such a tragic event. I believe we would all agree that the shooter made the choice to devalue human life to such a degree that he decided to execute 58 innocent people. As for the other potential liability, the courts will make that decision in due time.
When we hear the term “active shooter” most of us associate it with such events as the Las Vegas Massacre, Columbine High School, Pulse Nightclub, or Sandy Hook Elementary, and rightfully so as these tragic events ripped at the heart of every American. A study conducted by the FBI on 160 different active shooter incidents revealed that over 50% of active shooter incidents occur in a commerce setting and that 55% of the time there is some connection between the shooter and the targeted victims.
The same study also found that 23 of those 160 events occurred at locations that were closed to pedestrian traffic, meaning there was some type of access control or security in place. Of those 23 incidents that occurred in a “secure” building or facility, 22 were either current or former employees. What this means is that the vast majority of active shooter events that occur in the workplace are being carried out from within the organization.
Any business or corporation can and should do everything they can to physically secure their facility from an intruder but it is often the case that the “intruder” is one of their own. Whether they are disgruntled about their employment situation or involved in some crazy office love triangle, it is most common for these attacks to come from within.
While doing a speaking engagement at a recent safety and risk seminar, one participant asked us what to be looking for as it relates to this very issue of targeted violence from within. There is no easy answer here as everyone has a different trigger that sets them off and sometimes they hide it well. Other times, however, the volatility of a particular situation or employee is readily identifiable. In those instances the “see something, say something” model is absolutely critical. If management is not made aware of a particular problem or situation then they cannot take action.
So what do you do to help mitigate the situations you don’t see coming? HAVE A PLAN AND TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES.
In a previous article, I discussed the fact that most active shooters seek maximum carnage and minimum resistance. By having a good solid plan and conducting training, you are sending a message throughout your organization to all employees that you are preparing and there WILL BE RESISTANCE. You are also identifying your corporation and facility as a hard target and we all know soft targets are preferred by active shooters. Whether you come up with your own plan or hire a professional to complete a security evaluation and conduct training, get it done. Your life may depend on it.
To learn more about obtaining a security evaluation, training for a critical incident, or strengthening the security of your business or organization, please visit our website at or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping people and organizations achieve real security.
I believe every American asked themselves the same questions Monday morning upon seeing the news from Las Vegas. Why did he do this? Why do these keep happening? Will this ever stop? Although it’s in our human nature to want to understand the why, at the end of the day, the “why” does not matter. The “why” will not bring any of those victims back to their families. Furthermore, the specific reason that each of these gunmen use to justify their actions is different for each one.
Although in each incident there are a multitude of differing contributing factors, the ultimate responsibility lies with the person that made the decision to place so little value on human life and execute their fellow man. As to the question of will these ever stop, the sobering answer is no. Mass casualty incidents are on the rise in both frequency and body count. So we must focus our attention on studying these events to aid us all in developing a plan of action for when they do occur.
Here are five common factors that exist in the majority active shooter incidents.
- Maximum Carnage. Active shooters have one common goal and that is to inflict as much carnage and mayhem as possible. They seek to feel powerful and victimize others to fill some void in their warped mind. This can’t be predicted. Each one of them has a different trigger that ultimately made them snap.
- Soft Targets. They seek out and select soft targets. Soft targets are those with lack of intense security and where they expect to meet the least amount of resistance. Selection of these soft targets increases their chances of being able to inflict as much damage as possible in a short amount of time.
- Reconnaissance. Active shooters typically visit and are familiar with their target locations. In the business, we refer to this as reconnaissance. They observe and familiarize themselves with the target location in order to maintain the upper hand should they meet any resistance. The shooter in Las Vegas had been there for four days. The shooter at the Pulse nightclub had frequented the location on prior occasions. One of the shooters in San Bernardino actually attended the party first before leaving to arm up. The two shooters at Columbine High School were students which means they were intimately familiar with that building and campus. The point is this, they generally do some type of planning that involves the specific location to be targeted in preparation for the attack.
- Suicide. Active shooters are cowards. They seek to victimize the most helpless to fuel their psychopathic driven rage. They plan to die as part of the attack and most commit suicide just before or as they are being encountered by the police.
- Mentally Ill. Active shooters are crazy. I know this seems elementary and is something we all assume but this is a very important aspect of these incidents. Whether they were born crazy, became crazy over time, or just plain snapped one day, they are all still nuts and completely unpredictable. So to my point about this, you can’t predict or control crazy but you can prepare for it.
Whether it’s your home, your business, your church, your child’s school, or any public place, HAVE A PLAN. No matter where you go, ALWAYS identify at least two exits as a matter of habit. Talk to your family about what exactly your plan is so that there is no having to think about it during any kind of major incident. When under intense stress, we lose our ability to think rationally. However, prior planning embeds itself in your brain so that you are able to recall it under stress. In any critical incident, some will fall victim, those who have prepared will fall to their training.
To learn more about planning and training for a critical incident or strengthening the security presence for your home, church, school, or business, please visit our website or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping people and organizations achieve real security.
Tennessee church shooting leaves one dead, several wounded, officials say. That was the headline on Sunday, September 24, 2017. According to police the masked gunman shot and killed one female in the parking lot and then entered the sanctuary where he began shooting people indiscriminately. One Church member, a 22 year old usher, was able to respond by physically confronting the gunman, during which, the gunman received a self-inflicted gunshot to his chest. That member then went to his car in the parking lot, retrieved his own weapon, and headed back into the church where he held the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived. Clearly things could and would have been much worse if not for the heroic and selfless action of that young man.
At this point we don't know what motivated the gunman to carry out this heinous attack. However, does the “why” really matter? The answer is no. We could spend days and days trying to figure out why these happen and trying to predict when and where another one may occur, only to come up short. We all have to go beyond asking ourselves why and adjust to the reality that these types of mass casualty incidents are on the rise and we have to accept the fact that we must do something to prepare for them.
Here are five things that every church should do to improve their security.
1) Form a security team. Hopefully your church already has some sort of security team but if not, now is the time more than ever. More than likely these crazed gunmen are not going to target the large mega church that has three uniformed police officers sitting outside. They likely select their targets based on their ability to carry out as much carnage as possible. Having an obvious and visible security presence is critical.
2) Get a threat assessment and security evaluation done for your particular facility. Every church building and property is different and will have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to achieving physical security. Hiring a professional to evaluate your facility can make all the difference when it comes to critical incidents.
3) Develop plans and protocols. Your team needs specific plans and protocols in place to be truly effective. Every man for himself is not a plan. What are the preventative measures and protocols going to be and who is responsible for them? What are the teams’ specific roles should an intruder enter the building? These are all things that need to be nailed down in advance.
4) Conduct training. Training and repetition is what makes soldiers and police officers so effective at their respective jobs. They face situations daily where they must take decisive action immediately upon encountering a threat when there is no time to stop and think. They do this by relying on their training so that when the time comes they don’t simply react, they respond.
5) Be vigilant and consistent. Do not take for granted that another member of your team has already checked the south parking lot, or has secured a particular door, etc. Do not get complacent about your plans and protocols. Consistency can save lives, complacency kills.
If you want to learn more about strengthening the security presence at your church or business, go to our website or give us a call at 615-236-6484. We are passionate about helping organizations achieve real security in this dangerously developing world.
Can workplace violence incidents be prevented? The short answer is no but there are several ways the number of incidents can be reduced and/or the casualties mitigated greatly.
We all remember in April of this year when that lunatic estranged husband of San Bernardino teacher Karen Elaine Smith walked into her special education classroom and executed her in front of her students. He also struck two children, killing one, before taking his own life. There are no words to describe the tragic loss of life of that 8 year old boy, Jonathan Martinez, or the trauma the children in that classroom have suffered. The emotional scars will last forever for the family of Jonathan Martinez as well as the children that survived.
So we must ask ourselves, as we do after every tragic incident, how could this have happened? How did the systems and protocols in place at the time so greatly fail Karen and those children?
A spokesperson for the school said that it was common for family members to visit their spouses and that the staff recognized him as Karen Smith's husband. They further noted that he followed protocol by signing in at the office and said he did not appear agitated or upset. So where was the break down? It is unclear what type of specific training the school faculty had received at the time but it was potentially preventable by one simple act.
Had Karen simply told a co-worker or an administrator what was going on behind the scenes with her soon to be ex-husband then I venture to say there could have been a very different outcome. Had she told them about the specific threat he made about shooting her and her students, the school certainly would have had protocols in place to prevent his access to that school.
But two things prevented her from doing just that.
- The first is she didn't take him seriously enough at HIS WORD.
- The second is that she was either too embarrassed about what was happening in her personal life that she didn't want to share that with others, especially at her place of work, or she did not want to “bother” others with her problems.
Folks, the time for taking people at their word, especially threatening statements, is long past us. How often do we hear the common phrase, "I didn't think he would actually do it" or "I didn't think he was serious”? The answer is often enough that innocent lives are being ripped away because people fail to say something or take action.
Furthermore, we are often so concerned with what other people will think of us that we let it control our actions or in most cases inaction. It is often the case that others problems eventually become your problem whether you want them to or not. There is a simple phrase used by law enforcement and military instructors that “complacency kills.” I’m here to tell you, inaction also kills.
We want you to feel empowered and ready if the worst happens. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your school or business in an active shooter situation. Or click here to learn more about our services.