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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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