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Armed Security Officers – Defense Against Active Shooters?

August 19th, 2016 Comments off

There is always debate after a tragic school or workplace active shooter incident about whether the organization should consider hiring armed security officers as the first line of defense against active shooter incidents. Companies and other organizations should have workplace violence policies, which prohibit their employees from bringing guns on the property, or even locked in their car in the parking lot. So where should a prudent workplace violence policy draw the line regarding arming security officers?

I can present real world arguments both for and against. Practically speaking, an armed security officer would probably be able to get to the shooter’s location faster than the responding public law enforcement. They might find the active shooter and be faster at getting an accurate defensive shot off as opposed to the active shooter seeing the officer first and shooting them with no hesitation.  There are some harsh realities about firing a weapon accurately in a tense ‘combat’ situation. The average armed security officer does not have sufficient, or frequent enough, training to effectively engage a hostile shooter under the typical active shooter ‘combat’ conditions. Given current training standards, they might hurt an innocent bystander or co-worker, or getting themselves killed. Mindset is also critical in this combat situation, and the armed security officer may not be able to muster the will to kill if necessary. There are several dangers created by the armed security officer being asked to take this protective action.

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

  • Do all states require armed security officers to complete sufficient combat shooting training to prepare them 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 officers who do such training
    • Law enforcement officers have the benefit of a 16-week law enforcement academy (average time) versus the armed security officer having maybe a week of training (again, average time)
  • What liabilities exist for the company, the security officer, and the contract security company, if they engage a duty weapon defensively but miss and hit an innocent person nearby?
  • If the weapon is to be used in an active shooter incident, it will have to be carried on duty at all times.
    • This, however, represents a more significant risk for accidents involving the weapon on a daily basis during normal duty time
    • Just ask any contract security company if they have had such accidents and how often
    • What if another type of workplace violence incident, or crime, leads to the officer being overpowered and losing the weapon?
  • I will tell you that the responding police officers, who already have limited information about the suspect(s), and are nervous themselves coming into this emergency, will not like the fact that armed security personnel are searching the facility as well
  • Personally, if I were a duty security officer, I would like to have my 9mm with me. However, I also feel confident in my training and level of shooting experience with my prior law enforcement and protective operations background.

Companies and organizations need to develop proactive weapon restrictions as part of their workplace violence prevention policy.  I 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. This includes security officers until state standards of required training are grossly improved and standardized in every state.

For the benefit of your employees and other occupants, an active shooter response plan should be part of your workplace violence prevention program. The active shooter response plan should dictate that the first reaction priority is to get out of the building during such 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, having a sufficiently trained, armed security officer who is well disciplined and prepared might save lives; but what would that cost? That is an entirely different discussion. The necessary changes in training would significantly drive up the cost of either maintaining a proprietary armed guard force or contracting one. It is not an easy or cheap proposition.

Check out our workplace violence and active shooter response training courses online at: www.imac-training.com

 

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