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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 www.afimacglobal.com

 

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