Active Lethal Assailant – Sniper

October 25th, 2017 Comments off

It is likely that active shooter / active lethal assailant strategies are becoming the next possible trend in favored terrorist tactics against soft target locations. The horrific attack in Las Vegas this month that killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 more must provide a catalyst for change in the way we prepare for outdoor mass gatherings.  Recent vehicular attacks have made us aware of the additional planning that must also be considered regarding vehicles as weapons. However, this Las Vegas type of attack adds a new dimension to the problem. It took some planning by the attacker to get that many automatic weapons and ammunition into the final location. Public reports have him entering the property several days before the attack, allowing plenty of time for multiple trips in and out of the hotel with luggage. In a place like Las Vegas, this would not have raised any eyebrows.

This attack method brings into question how to secure large gatherings of people for holiday and sporting events, outdoor public celebrations, or even large lines of people waiting to enter crowded venues. The list is endless and presents a security challenge that is not easily met. Realistically, nobody ever thinks it will happen, until it does. Now that it has, the precedent has been set.

Safeguards to consider for outdoor events:

  • Select venues in cities that have gunfire detection systems (like ShotSpotter) for shot origination pinpointing
  • Pre-event ‘high ground’ sweeps
  • Counter-sniper team deployment
  • Undercover officers in the crowd (in case the shooter is amongst everyone)
  • Stationing security in surrounding buildings overlooking venues (watching hallways and windows)
  • Emergency messaging systems and phone apps that give direction during an emergency to occupants and patrons attending an event
  • Clear emergency evacuation signage to reduce stampeding in panic (people tend to run to where they entered creating a funnel danger)
  • Effective barriers and buffer zones to guard against vehicle ramming attacks

None of the above suggestions are guarantees, but if used creatively and perhaps in layers or combinations, it may afford some protection, if not a deterrent. There will always be the question about cost and the ‘do we really need this’ attitude. This will haunt security professionals for quite some time. Not just for outside events, but also for large sports venues as the crowds gather for entry.  What will become the standard duty of care? Tactics will always change, and we will have to be innovative enough to react accordingly and even try to foresee what we really do not want to.

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Active Shooter Response Options

September 6th, 2017 Comments off

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High Risk Employee Behavior Indicators

August 25th, 2017 Comments off

Extremists Rallies –Permission and Preparation

August 21st, 2017 Comments off


With the increasing frequency of ‘extremist’ group demonstrations or rallies comes the security concerns brought on by the emotionally driven misconduct often occurring at these events. The First Amendment dictates the need for permission and tolerance of these gatherings, even though there is often an undertone of hatred that drives them. I feel that this is an emotion that should not be rewarded with a public voice, but that is just my opinion. Unfortunately, during some of these events, participants feel the end justifies the means. That is when things get out of hand and underscores the importance of event precautions and preparation.

This tendency towards violent outbreaks has become increasingly evident in politically, or racially, motivated gatherings where groups with opposite viewpoints clash. This misconduct often results in arrests of course, but it still represents a danger to peaceful demonstrators or civilians just trying to go about their business in the area. Take the most recent events in Charlottesville, VA at the University of Virginia. A racially motivated and permitted rally that attracted opposing factions (haters). Violence broke out, and someone drove a car into the crowd killing one woman and injuring many others. We have clearly been put on notice that these events will draw the wrong element. Aggressors will show up along with those who want to voice their opinions peacefully; those for whom the First Amendment was intended.

My suggestions for campuses, communities and nearby companies that are concerned about announced events such as these is to meet with the local police and find out what preventive measures are being considered. Also, given the nature of the event, would authorities consider not granting the demonstration permits because of the public safety concern it represents. In the wake of the Charlottesville incident, Texas A&M announced it had canceled the “White Lives Matter” rally that had been scheduled for 9/11/17 on their campus. Good for them. One can never absolutely say that something violent might have happened, but common sense should prevail.

There are some things to consider when preparing for an event that could become emotionally charged. The following are just a few suggestions and are not an exhaustive list:

  • Establish a rapport with the local police and get briefed on security precautions.
  • Seek the assistance of an investigative service that will assist with open-source monitoring of the Internet sites and social media channels typically used in the planning of such events. It is amazing what people will spout off about on the internet, often with threatening overtones.
  • Based on what you find out from the local police, determine whether your company should contract out for extra security, intelligence gathering and social media monitoring, photographic evidence collection, executive or personal protection and other response options.
  • If the event is planned on your property, consider the physical location and whether it might be susceptible to a vehicular attack similar to what happened in Charlottesville. What barriers should be considered as a defense or at least a deterrent? (Refer to my blog in April)

Observation– It is sad we need to have a “white lives matter” movement and a “black lives matter” movement. Why not “lives matter”- period!

For more about AFIMAC services that can help during event planning, check out our website at


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Arming Employees and Security Guards Against Active Shooters

June 21st, 2017 Comments off

Clients repeatedly ask me whether arming the security guards or selected employees is a responsible defense against active shooters? Although there may be some isolated circumstances where this could provide an advantage, I still do not believe it is beneficial in most cases. Yes, certain states have laws that allow employees to have their firearms with them if they have completed the necessary background checks and training, and have obtained the required permits. However, there are companies and other organizations that have workplace violence policies that prohibit their employees from bringing guns on the property. So where should prudent workplace violence policy draw the line? If it is going to take police some time to respond to the location, might an armed security guard be able to get to the shooter more quickly?

Practically speaking, an employee would very rarely be in a position to safely and effectively employ a weapon in an actual active shooter situation. There are some harsh realities about firing a handgun accurately in a tense ‘combat’ situation. The average citizen cannot effectively engage a hostile shooter under these conditions without hurting an innocent bystander or co-worker or getting themselves killed. They do not have the necessary training or the mindset. There are also further dangers created by the armed employee attempting to take protective action. The police responding do not know that they are not the active shooter suspect.

A similar case can be argued against an armed security guard. They do not have the sufficient level of training to prepare them for these same challenges of combat shooting. It is not their fault, or their contract company’s fault, but rather a lack of appropriate regulatory training requirement in most states. Also, their clients would probably not pay the rates that would support the necessary level of training.

Let’s think about some of these realities and further dangers. You can shape your opinion.

  • Do all private citizens/employees engage in sufficient combat shooting training to prepare themselves for the adrenalin rush, fear, tunnel vision, panic and confusion which will characterize an active shooter rampage? This type of defensive shooting is even a challenge for law enforcement patrol officers who do such training.
  • Armed security guards do not have the training or practice required to maintain the necessary skill sets that the police
  • What liabilities exist for the company, and the armed guard or employee, if the employee or guard engages a weapon defensively but misses their target and hits an innocent person nearby?
  • For employees, if the weapon were going to be defensively used in an active shooter incident, it would have to be positioned for quick access, not in a locked car in the parking lot. Thus, the weapon would have to be in the building to be employed practically. This, however, represents a more significant risk on a daily basis for the business under normal conditions. What if another type of workplace violence incident, or crime, is perpetrated because others know about that weapon?
  • You certainly would not want an employee who was safely evacuated during an active shooter incident to get their gun from their locked vehicle and re-enter the facility to hunt the shooter down. They will probably be mistaken for the suspect shooter when the police get

Personally, if I were the employee who could not get out and had to hide out, I would like to have my 9mm with me, if I did have to fight for my life, rather than makeshift weapons. However, I also feel confident in my training and level of shooting experience with my law enforcement and protective operations background. Still, the weapon would not do me much good if it was not in my desk or close-by.

Companies and organizations need to develop proactive weapon restrictions as part of their workplace violence prevention policy.  Granted, that policy has to take into account the local and state laws relative to each of their facilities. I also think that the employer has the duty, for the safety of their workplace, to keep the weapons out of the building and, if possible, off of the property. Having them locked in a car in the parking lot is still debatable.

An active shooter response plan should be part of your workplace violence policy. An active shooter response plan should dictate that the first reaction priority is to get out of the building during an incident. The second response option, if you are trapped, is to hide quietly in a safe, locked and barricaded place. Only as a last resort should you engage the shooter in a fight for your life. Granted, at that point having a weapon would be useful.  However, would everyone have that discipline to stick to the policy and get out first and not try to play hero, perhaps making matters worse for responding police?

It is essential that you consider these practical concerns when formulating your active shooter response as part of your overall workplace violence prevention plan.

Check out our workplace violence and active shooter response training courses online at:

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Active Assailant Strategies Using Vehicles

April 24th, 2017 Comments off


Active shooter and lethal assailant strategies are becoming the next possible trend in favored terrorist tactics against soft target locations. The horrific attack last year along the beachfront in Nice, France at the Bastille Day celebratory fireworks that killed 84 and wounded dozens more has provided a demonstration of an easy means of lethal attack to others. Smaller scale but similar attacks have now happened on a college campus at Ohio State and most recently in London. I think this is just the beginning of a new trend for mass killing with a tool that is readily available to anyone – a vehicle. The initial reports on the incident in Nice stating that is was a ‘lone wolf’ scenario were not accurate. It was well planned and premeditated as cell phone records, computer data, and other intelligence sources indicated. Multiple suspects were arrested, suspected of being accomplices in the planning stages. The scariest dynamic of this incident and the others that have followed, however, is the sheer simplicity of the weapon of choice. Yes, the Nice attacker Mohamed Bouhlel did have a firearm, but that was not the primary killing instrument used. A heavily loaded truck can be quite a destructive force. A very disturbing precedent has been set, and it is being copied on perhaps a smaller scale with normal sized vehicles.

Besides guns and IEDs, we now have to worry about vehicular attacks at places where people gather. Make no mistake; the effectiveness and ease of these attacks will inspire others with evil intentions without the means to acquire guns or explosives. This attack method brings into question how to secure large gatherings of people for holiday and sporting events, outdoor public celebrations, or even large lines of people waiting to enter crowded venues. The list is endless and presents a security challenge that is not easily met. The permanent types of vehicular barriers (bollards, heavy planters, and rising wedge/delta type barriers) typically seen around buildings to stop onrushing vehicles are great, and that may have to become more of the norm in security-conscious construction. However, what can be done about temporary gatherings or conditions that would present the same vulnerability? The temporary tools that come to mind are:

  • The moveable jersey barriers that are used in highway construction projects and Embassy complexes around the world (multiple layers of them would have to be used to stop a large truck)
  • Arranging large parked trucks for protection
  • Devices to destroy tires of any on-rushing vehicles – outside of the barriers
  • Roadblocks surrounding an event and concentric perimeter zones checking credentials and each visitors’ purpose
  • Closing off roads surrounding an event. (if the scale of the event warrants)

None of these are guarantees, but if used creatively and perhaps in layers or combinations they might afford some protection, if not a deterrent. Then there will always be the question about cost and ‘do we really need this’ type of thinking. This will haunt security professionals for quite some time. For example, what will become the standard for large sports venues regarding this type of threat as the crowds gather for entry? I think about it when I am standing in those lines with my family. I wish I had more answers. Tactics will always change, and we will have to be innovative enough to react accordingly and even try to foresee what we really don’t want to.

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Workplace Violence from Domestic Relationships Gone Bad

March 20th, 2017 Comments off

One of the leading causes of workplace violence incidents, including the most deadly active shooter incidents, is when a domestic relationship has gone bad. They are usually one of two types; an abusive spouse of an employee, or the other, a workplace romance that went wrong. Both of these situations can unfold violently in the workplace.

We would all like to think that marital or domestic partner abuse stays in the home. However, if restraining orders have been secured to keep the abusive partner away from the victim’s home, then the most likely alternative place to find the targeted person is at work. It is coming into the workplace whether you like it or not. We would also like to think that workplace romances either don’t happen or will work out positively if they develop. They do happen, and they often do not work out positively. They often have the potential of unfolding violently at work. Employers have to plan for this and develop policies that specifically address this cause. Not blaming the victims, but helping them.

Refer to the below link regarding how educational institutions are recognizing and addressing it. This is also a link to other resources regarding this issue. Though its focus is on students, it can easily translate into cautions for young people in the workforce.

How to Address Relationship Violence with K-12 and College Students

Employers need to have policies that recognize that some of their employees might need help in these matters. If they have a workplace or domestic relationship that could get out of hand and lead to a violent incident, the employee should be able to turn to their Human Resources people for help. It is that employee’s responsibility to their co-workers to report the situation, and the employer’s responsibility to all of their workers to make assistance available. Not to judge but to avert disasters.

Check out some of the other workplace violence prevention related courses available online at

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Active Shooter Attacks – Universities are Soft Targets

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

Historically, active shooter assaults have been driven by motivations of revenge, jealousy, fear or anger. Some have involved domestic relationships that have gone wrong resulting in violent events in the workplace. Many have been a result of disgruntled employees reaching an irrational point of frustration or former employees not being able to get past being terminated. However, now, on the heels of the Paris and Nice attacks in France, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the Ohio State University attack last year, we should ask another question. Will this type of orchestrated active shooter/deadly assault on ‘soft targets’ continue in our communities, and more specifically on college campuses? In my opinion – this is very likely.

Symbolic government, business, and public infrastructure targets have taken steps to increase security and think about terrorist threat preparation and monitoring. This is great and needs to continue but what about easier targets of equal value in the eyes of attackers. Often these attackers just want to lash out at the perceived evil of western society and what better place to do so than where young people are being educated during a very impressionable period in their lives. Whether religiously motivated, or anti-capitalist motivated, there does not seem to be a lack of terrorist groups, or radicalized individual supporters, that want to attack our way of living and believing. College campuses offer open environments, events with large crowds, and masses of students out on the grounds between classes, with security or campus police departments often being understaffed. Universities and colleges are easy targets that would warrant a significant amount of media attention. No one wants to think about this but we must.

For another perspective on this topic, check out the article in this link:

graphWhy Do Terrorists Target Colleges and Universities?



An attack at a college or university will be difficult to stop and very effective if not planned for, both regarding anticipated emergency response and tapping resources for preventive intelligence gathering. Social media is often used for communication and planning by those who set out to conduct such attacks, so we need to be paying attention and use the expertise available to monitor and analyze such data. Social media is probably a college student’s most frequently used communication channel, and they are very free with what they post – good or bad.

There has already been some success using proactive intelligence for prevention purposes. However, we need to open the door a little wider. It is one of our better defenses, along with having a solid response plan. Colleges and universities should have people dedicated to social media monitoring through geofencing around campuses. This may be a topic I will expand upon in the future.

Develop an active shooter response plan for your facility or campus! Check out our website for assistance at


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The Role Unarmed Security Officers Can Play in Response to Active Shooter Attacks

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off

I write pretty frequently about workplace violence preparedness and response, and specific response guidelines for active shooter situations. Most of the training that addresses this topic centers on immediate notification procedures, occupant reaction guidelines, evacuation recommendations, and assisting armed police who come to deal with the assailant. There is often an assumption that unarmed security officers are incapable of doing anything to help in the response plan because they cannot neutralize the attacker without being armed. While it is true we should not expect them to put themselves in harm’s way to seek out and attempt to stop the assailant; there are in fact many functions that the unarmed security officer can perform just before, or after, they evacuate themselves.

In a proactive/preventive vein, they can remain diligent in their daily post observations and be alert for security breaches and any red flag behavior that might indicate an internal problem with a particular individual. Just reporting an observation of out of character behavior, or overly aggressive exchanges with others could be enough to start the preliminary investigative effort, which might uncover a more serious problem brewing. Often they get to know the employees well enough to notice behavioral indicators, and usually have a keener eye for such behaviors than do co-workers who might not notice, or might not want to report it if they do.

In the active shooter response plan, there is a lot more that they can and should be expected, and depended upon, to do.  They are typically going to be one of the first ones to receive the panicked call from an employee/witness that an armed assault has occurred. They then are going to have to begin the entire notification chain that launches the specific response/evacuation plan. They will have to be trained to handle this responsibility correctly, and quickly because seconds matter once this lethal event begins. They are going to have to know the entire response plan and everyone’s role in it. They are likely going to become a conduit of communication between facility management and the responding police throughout the duration of the incident. This will eventually be from the designated Emergency Communications Center (established in any response plan). Once primary notification responsibilities have been satisfied, and the evacuation has begun, the unarmed officers should evacuate along with everyone else, but they will have other duties related to the evacuation and assisting with the police response. These duties could include any of the following:

  • Report to designated locations to assist the first police officers on the scene with gaining access into the building if it is typically secured with badge access
  • Assisting for a limited time with those evacuating
  • Reporting to the designated Emergency Communications Center to help with:
    • Monitoring of incoming phone calls related to the incident
    • CCTV monitoring to see if they can spot the location or progress of the shooter
    • Being a communication liaison with the responding police
  • Assisting with treatment of the wounded who have been able to make it out of the facility but still need first aid treatment until professional/public EMS arrives
  • Helping with the accountability of employees who have evacuated the building
  • Staffing evacuation assembly points (if they have been designated in the response plan)
  • Keeping others from entering or re-entering the facility

These are just some of the duties that these officers can be assisting with so that the armed police can focus on the difficult task of searching for, and neutralizing the assailant(s).

For more information, see How Unarmed Security Officers Can Respond to Active Killer Situations
What you can do for your organization’s security personnel is train them in understanding, accepting and performing these roles, within your active shooter response plan. Make sure they realize that they play a significant role in it! For further information on Active Shooter Response Planning, check out our website for assistance at


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Active Shooter Prevention – Warning Signs

December 14th, 2016 Comments off

A couple of months ago I posted a blog that highlighted a success story of courage and assertiveness by a school counselor. I am again going to make violence prevention the topic of this month’s blog with two links I found and have listed below. The first case is about the perceptiveness and immediate action, of a troubled kid’s parents. The second emphasizes what we think we see vs. what we should see when looking for recognizable warning signs of violence.

1Utah Parents Disarm Son in Middle School Classroom
The boy fired his weapon at the ceiling inside of a classroom packed with students.

2Sandy Hook Ad Shows Role of Community in Preventing Gun Violence
The powerful new ad shows common signs displayed by a potential school shooter.

The above links provide stories of courage and assertiveness, as well as the value of seeing things clearly that may be lingering in the ‘background’ but are warning signs of a dangerous condition brewing. Parents should be honest with themselves about things they see and don’t want to believe. The second story also underscores the importance of remaining observant for warning signs that we often write off as quirks.

As with other forms of workplace or criminal violence, there is no one magic solution to preventing active shooter incidents. What causes a person to become an active shooter and indiscriminately take the lives of random innocent targets? Often they cry out for help before they are driven to a violent act. Other times they send warning signs without even knowing they are doing so. Either way, we need to be alert and notice these conditions and say something! Be assertive about informing managers/professionals of disturbing observations so that intervention can be considered before it is too late.

I believe the promise for reducing these occurrences involves significant progress in several areas, so I will repeat what I wrote in October.

  • The gun control debate has to find an actionable middle ground. Gun enthusiast organizations would have everyone free to possess high capacity automatic assault weapons standing on the second amendment right to bear arms. Meanwhile, liberal, anti-gun proponents would take guns of any type away from everyone. Does the average civilian need a fully or semi-automatic high capacity weapon(s) for self-defense? No, but citizens should be able to purchase and license a handgun or shotgun for personal or home defense with adequate and required annual training and shooting practice. With the case above we see that it is also important to secure those weapons safely.
  • The mental health care profession owes it to their communities to work with law enforcement when a patient’s behavior displays an apparent propensity towards violence. Patient confidentiality aside, they should be legally allowed to get the police involved in whatever capacity will have some dissuasive effect on the person. At least the police could begin a case file and start having a conversation with the individual.
  • The video game industry needs to take a careful look at themselves and perhaps be regulated more strictly regarding the production and release of video games in which killing and extreme violence are rewarde I know it is a game, but it contributes to the devaluing of life, the de-sensitization of violence and death, and the blurring of the lines between lawful social conduct and fantasy.
  • Never disregard home and family It is the old fashioned way of learning right from wrong. Do we remember what they even are? Technology is wonderful and powerful until young people totally lose the social skills to talk to each other to work out problems. Misguided children become adults with adult problems. Lacking coping skills anchored in values. Sometimes they look for aggressive ways to vent.

Finally, organizations and companies need to be more assertive with policies that make it a responsibility to report suspicious observations. Just having a policy that states that workplace violence will not be tolerated is not enough. Give the policy some teeth!

Check out AFIMAC’s active shooter video at It offers some real world active shooter survival tips for individuals and solid workplace violence planning advice for organizations.

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