Archive for the ‘Physical and Online Training’ Category

Q&A: Preparing a Small Business For A Possible Attack

November 6th, 2018 Comments off

By The Associated Press | Nov. 5, 2018

NEW YORK — News of another mass shooting, including the recent attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, makes many people wonder what they would do if confronted with an active shooter or other assailant. And small business owners may wonder how they can prepare their companies to deal with a possible attack.

Here are some questions and answers:

Q. What resources are available to help small business owners prepare their staffers to deal with potential violence?

A. There are websites and videos online that describe what employees should do if there is an active shooter. Government agencies have web pages with instructions and videos, among them the Department of Homeland Security ( ), the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( ) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( ). Another site is , also operated by Homeland Security.

But sending employees an email with a list of online resources may not help prepare people, says Sean Ahrens, a security consultant with AEI Affiliated Engineers. In-person training sessions that include role-playing and tours of a company’s facilities to point out exit routes and potential hiding places are more likely to have a lasting impact, he says.

 “When you put someone into that role-playing, the adrenaline gets going,” Ahrens says.

Owners may want to consider bringing in security consultants to train staffers. And many local law enforcement agencies are willing to analyze small businesses and help owners and employees understand where and how they can escape or hide. For example: If they hide inside a room with furniture, they should block the door with pieces of furniture piled on top of one another, creating as big a barricade as possible.

Q. What’s involved in preparing to deal with an active shooter?

A. There is no way to prepare for the exact circumstances of an attack because each situation is unique and unpredictable. But a company can create a plan that helps people know generally what to do, says Rob Shuster, a vice president at the security consultancy AFIMAC Global.

 For example, everyone should know how to report that there’s an assailant on the premises, and they need to know how the company will communicate with everyone on the premises. They should know that they need to run from the building if possible, where all the exits are and where they should assemble. They need to know all the possible hiding places, and how to secure the doors of rooms and closets. They need to know quirks in the building that can save their lives — like a crawl space that a shooter or other assailant doesn’t know about.

A plan can also help people know what common mistakes to avoid, Shuster says. For example, escaping employees may want to run up to a law enforcement officer, a dangerous idea because officers may not know whether the people approaching them are innocent or assailants, he says. And, their hands should be empty, so no one mistakenly believes they’re carrying a weapon.

Q. Are there potential incidents besides a random active shooter that companies should prepare for?

A. Security experts also train owners and workers about what to do in the case of disgruntled staffer or a domestic dispute — two situations that are more likely to happen at a workplace. They also instruct companies about how to deal with a robbery or other criminal act.

In the cases of a vengeful staffer or a domestic dispute, employees would take some of the same steps, starting with running and hiding, as with a random shooter. In the case of a robbery, the safest approach is to give criminals what they’re looking for, says Brent O’Bryan, a vice president at Allied Universal, a company that provides security and other services. While there have been videos on TV and online of some store employees tackling robbers, that is not recommended, and could be deadly, he says.

It’s not possible to know in advance that a current or former staffer will come into a workplace and begin attacking employees and managers. But owners can lessen the possibility of an attack by addressing problems as they come up, O’Bryan says. An owner should consider asking human resources professionals for advice in dealing with angry or troubled staffers.

“A business owner needs to make sure he or she as leaders are willing to step in and stop issues — whether it’s an employee acting up for a problem between employees — and snuff it out so it cannot evolve into something worse,” O’Bryan says.

Violence related to a domestic dispute is equally hard to predict. But owners also need to encourage staffers to speak up if they are having domestic issues or have obtained an order of protection against a spouse, partner or boyfriend or girlfriend, O’Bryan says.

Co-workers also need to feel free to approach the boss if there seems to be a problem, such as a troubled or angry staffer, or an employee suffering through a difficult and possibly threatening domestic situation.


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High Risk Employee Behavior Indicators

August 25th, 2017 Comments off

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 Shooter – Recognizing the Signs

October 18th, 2016 Comments off

With the volume of workplace shootings that continue in our businesses and schools, it is nice to hear a true success story.


Armed Student Talked Out of School Shooting by Counselor
The student reportedly had a list of teachers and a police officer at the school he was going to shoot.

There has been a much-needed public outcry about what can be done to stop such senseless violence. The above link provides a story of courage and demonstrates the result of non-violent confrontation management training that clearly prepared this school counselor to react and diffuse/de-escalate the situation. It also underscores the importance of inter-office discrete communication during emergency conditions so that law enforcement responders can be alerted. Employers with staff such as counselors, social workers, customer service reps, and other similar positions could be exposed to similar conditions and should take a lesson from this incident. They need to evaluate what training they offer these people and if it prepares them for such a situation.

As with other forms of workplace or criminal violence, there is no one magic solution to preventing an active shooter incident. That is why I have called this society’s challenge in the past. What causes a person to become an active shooter and indiscriminately take the lives of random innocent targets? Is the solution more gun control? Is it better cooperation between the mental health community and law enforcement to spot potential threats?  Is it more censoring and regulation of the video game industry? Does home/family values need realignment?

I believe the premise for reducing these occurrences involves significant progress in all of these areas.

  • The gun control debate has to find an actionable middle ground. Gun enthusiast organizations would have everyone 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. Politically, we have to find a happy medium on this issue.
  • Does the mental health care profession owe it to their communities to work with law enforcement when a patient’s behavior displays an apparent propensity towards violence? Yes, and 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.
  • Does the video game industry need to take a careful look at themselves and perhaps have stricter regulations regarding the production and release of video games in which killing and extreme violence is rewarded? Yes. 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.
  • Home and family values. The old fashioned way of learning right from wrong. Do we remember what they even are? Technology is wonderful and powerful. Until children totally lose the social skills to talk to each other in order to work out problems. Misguided children become adults with adult problems. Lacking coping skills anchored in values, they look for someone to ‘text an answer to them’, or they escape to act out fantasy solutions, like in the games they

We do these horrible things to each other. We can do better than this. Even if we have just one small conversation, one small compromise, one small act of tolerance, kindness, or understanding at a time.

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

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Active Shooter Response – Responsibility to Have a Plan

January 21st, 2016 Comments off


Will your building occupants know what to do if an active shooter is loose in your facility hallways or on your campus? Will they all know that the event is happening, thus giving them some chance to react? Do they know what the appropriate reaction should be? Most people’s instincts are to run from danger but they must be given guidelines for doing so in an active shooter situation that won’t put them in even greater danger. What if they are trapped in an area by the shooter? What will they do then? What can they expect from responding police?

Merely depending on common sense assumptions when considering these questions is not a good response plan. Absent of a well thought out and thoroughly communicated plan, your organization is subject to occupants doing things that might make bad conditions worse. You have an ethical and legal responsibility to maintain some level of preparedness. Furthermore, you cannot depend on a very low probability of an occurrence as a defense. The human cost, if it ever does take place, demands a response plan!  No facility where such a tragedy has happened ever considered itself a likely place for it to occur!

These tragic events are now happening with even more frequency. Also, the recent incidents in San Bernardino, CA and Paris, France brings into play the possibility that this could become a terrorist’s preferred method of attack, regardless of their motivation or group sponsorship. It has become increasingly evident that organizations/businesses/schools/universities need an active shooter response plan. Specifically one that is tailored for the security circumstances at their facilities. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Granted, the response plan from one organization or institution to another may have some common reaction guidelines but the specific response protocols for each will be quite different.

In a prior piece I wrote that there are typically three response choices for facility occupants to rely upon:

  • get out – exit the danger area immediately if possible
  • hide out – lock and barricade silently in place if escape is not possible due to the location of the shooter
  • take out – mass attack the shooter if you’re cornered and your hide out option becomes a sudden fight for your life

To be practical and effective a tailored active shooter response plan has to take into account several factors including, but not limited to:

  • The type of facility in question – school, office building, retail store, factory, sports complex, secured facility, etc.
  • The presence of public occupants as well as employees
  • The environment in which the facility is located – city, suburban, rural, remote, etc.
    • This may dictate the time it will take for law enforcement response
  • The type of communication/notification system available – how will everyone in your facility know that such an event is taking place?
    • Don’t just pull the fire alarm as this may generate some less than advisable responses
  • The occupants’ capabilities to evacuate and knowledge of where to go – considering age/physical abilities/facility operations/etc.
  • Emergency responder tactics and expectations

The variations of how “get out / hide out / take out” is applied and which of the response options are selected under what conditions will be influenced by these and other factors.  Accounting for these factors in a specific response plan, and giving example circumstances during training will help to prepare each occupant to know what they should be doing.

Finally, the response plan must be tested and rehearsed. Include the local emergency responders in the refinement of your plan. Lessons learned from other incidents that have occurred, and from your own rehearsals, can be used to further modify and tailor your active shooter response plan; the one that might become part of your legal defense and your clear conscience. Arm people with the knowledge that will give them a chance to survive. It’s the right thing to do.

For more detailed training regarding active shooter response guidelines see our free course at



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Security Concerns and Personal Protection for the Olympics

December 31st, 2015 Comments off

If your company is planning to have people go to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer there are a few things corporate security teams need to be preparing for now. The Olympic events will bring thousands of people into the country and there will be an increase in street crime activity and possible terrorist threats that go along with the excitement of, and media attention brought by the games. This goes beyond the normal understanding of general security awareness measures and reserving lodging and transportation. You have to make your employees and guests understand how and why people might be targeted beyond the significance of the event being a terror target. Granted, authorities will be doing the work to maintain a secure environment at the Olympic event venues. However, your people’s time in country outside of those venues is even more of a challenge. Latin American countries while beautiful, can be dangerous places and Brazil is no exception, even though they have been preparing for these games. Violent street crime is an increasing problem as are the activities of more organized Transnational Crime Organizations (TCO’s). The proper approach to personnel security during these games will have to due primarily with these three things:

In terms of awareness, short-term visitors to Rio need to focus on how not to become an attractive target of opportunity. Remember that perception is reality to the street criminal looking for an easy mark. Foreigners seeming to be confused or tentative, and appearing to have some wealth, are their targets. Wealth is also a relative term so just wearing expensive clothes or a shiny watch could be all that is necessary to establish your value to them. (Your presence at any of these events alone might mark you as someone of means.) Then, assailants will observe your level of awareness. Even street criminals will observe various possible targets before they select their victim. Whether at the airport or hotel, on the street, or at one of the events, if you move about with a very low key, alert and prepared demeanor, wearing simple attire and limited or no jewelry, you reduce the likelihood of being selected for assault. When walking, remain alert for approaches towards you and respond assertively. This will communicate that you are not going to be an easy target. Potential assailants will choose someone who appears to have valuables or cash and who also seems easy to catch off guard.

However, just blending in and being alert is not the only defense. Corporate security teams will have to do some advance work regarding personnel transportation and lodging. Employees and corporate guests need a plan for where they are going to stay (approved hotel locations), who will meet them (perhaps a security driver), and how they will coordinate their transportation needs with that driver. This will help them avoid that ‘lost or confused’ appearance. Arranging for a security driver is a great way of assuring this. Not a limousine but a simple sedan or van driven by someone who knows the area, understands target selection, and can keep your personnel out of dangerous locations. Also, remember that these services will be booked up early for the time period of the games so, just as you have secured lodging early, reserve the transportation service you will need by January or February of 2016. Otherwise, your personnel may get stuck with ‘security drivers’ who are not qualified but are recruited by vendors at the last minute.

More extended visits by your senior executives bring other elements into play. This affords the chance to study them over a longer period of time to assess their possible value as a kidnap or extortion target. Kidnappers often study several possible kidnap or extortion targets and pick the one that offers the most value at the least risk. For executives, conducting themselves in a low-key manner is still important but now they have to be observant for repeats of people or vehicles that observe them during their day. This is probably criminal surveillance. A security driver is again a great option if not a close protection detail for higher profile executives.  Busy, distracted business executives should be encouraged to take advantage of a security driver. Defensive safeguards such as practicing designed randomness, route planning, and surveillance detection takes daily mental concentration. This level of attention to detail and observation is difficult to practice when the executive’s daily focus will be on their business, family members or guests, and their enjoyment of the games.

This brief discussion is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to avoiding becoming a part of the increasingly disturbing crime statistics of Latin American countries. For more detailed information about our services in Latin America hit our website at

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Workplace Violence – The Denial in Small to Mid-Sized Companies

November 23rd, 2015 Comments off

With the horrific events of violence that occur now almost weekly, too many mid-sized companies still think it will only happen in larger organizations.  Violence is a critical issue for all employers to deal with regardless of size. The dynamics that drive this violence are human reactions to conditions that exist with any employer. One of the biggest mistakes that many organizations make is remaining in denial. Yes, it is an unpleasant topic to talk about, let alone make policy on, but you are taking a huge financial risk by not recognizing that it could happen in your workplace and failing to develop prevention strategies to reduce those chances. This risk is especially significant to smaller organizations that are less likely to be able to withstand the loss of a lawsuit should something happen. Your only defense against being found negligent and liable in court if something does happen is to have done the necessary risk assessment to overcome a reasonable foreseeability argument. You will also need to document that you have a workplace violence prevention program in place, even a simple one. Granted, larger companies have numerical probability working against them due to the number of employees they have. However, low probability of occurrence due to your limited numbers of employees is not a defense.

Maybe your organization doesn’t need to have a Workplace Violence Prevention Program. If you have never had:

  • Crime in your neighborhood
  • A domestic violence situation with one of your employees
  • Fired anyone
  • A crime happen in your business
  • One of your employees stalked
  • An irate customer threaten one of your employees
  • A bully in your ranks
  • An employee use aggressive, intimidating language or action against another

If your company hasn’t experienced any of the above, then maybe your organization is immune. But I don’t think that is possible! Yes, all of those things listed can lead to workplace violence and will be looked at in court as contributing to reasonable foreseeability. Furthermore, when you preach to your employees that they are your most valued assets, as so many smaller companies like to do, what message are you sending them when you do not address violence prevention?

All organizations need a workplace violence prevention program that involves everyone! Don’t just write a policy statement and put it in a handbook. How often, after a tragic violent incident, do people who are interviewed say something like “I knew he would do something like this” or “he always made me afraid”? Often those who are in the best position to recognize problem behavior from an individual are the employees who engage with them every day. They know something is wrong but may keep quiet about their concerns. They expect that someone should be doing something about an issue but don’t know what to report, or to whom. This is not the employee’s fault. If they haven’t been made aware through the workplace violence prevention policy that they have a responsibility to report certain things, then they cannot help reduce the problem.

Let’s just take the example of not reporting inappropriate aggression or bullying. This can stem from a number of reasons including but not limited to:

  • Fear of repercussions from the individual in question
  • Not knowing when a behavior is deemed unacceptable and must be reported
  • Not knowing to whom or how to report the behavior
  • No assurance that there will be follow up by a supervisor or management

All of these reasons can be addressed with an effective workplace violence prevention policy that is enforced and is an employment compliance requirement. Ironically, this is even easier to implement in smaller organizations versus large ones. Workplace violence prevention policies must address inappropriate intimidation through language, gestures, direct and indirect threats, or any other aggressive conduct that instills fear into employees. This fear can be coming from an internal or external source. Not only should all employees be trained in what to look for but also they should be required to report the problem to supervisory personnel. Supervisory personnel also have to be trained in how to investigate such reports and follow up with those designated within the organization to handle such matters.

Denial is even more costly if ongoing conduct is reported, or a mildly violent incident occurs, and no action to investigate or correct the behavior is taken. This happens more frequently in smaller organizations because they lack the internal expertise to handle it. Not addressing this problem will assure that the aggressive conduct will continue. Others may even mimic the aggression since it seems to be tolerated by the company. Soon the behavior can take on a more violent form when people begin to fight back. Eventually the workplace becomes a hostile environment. No matter who the aggressor is, the behavior must be addressed and stopped. Don’t make excuses. Correct the behavior through professional intervention or remove the individual using a safe termination process.

Consider an active shooter scenario. If someone decides to go on a shooting rampage in your facility, have you trained your personnel what to do? It is fairly simple to give them basic survival training and it requires a response plan that will work for your specific facility. This is another necessary component of your workplace violence prevention and response program.  Just planning to call 911 is not enough.

For more information regarding workplace violence prevention, safe terminations, bullying prevention, active shooter response planning and training, supervisory training and other related topics check out the Workplace Violence Series on our website at

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Active Shooter – Post Incident Information Release

October 20th, 2015 Comments off

By now everyone in America, Canada and much of the world knows what happened on October 1, 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Unfortunately we also know the name of the shooter and that becomes part of the problem. Yes, we should learn from these incidents by studying what preceded them and what, if any, possible predictive signs could have been spotted. We should also learn from the tactics used in the incident so that we can prepare first responders for future events. But, do we all really have to know the name of the offender if they were killed in the incident? Might this feed the misguided notions of potential assailants who are troubled and may be seeking equal notoriety? I know the media feels that we need to know, but do we really? Yes, we need to know what happened and what we can learn from it, but knowing ‘who’ is a double-edged sword.

I applaud the responding law enforcement officers in this case because they did not release any names. Authorities did not publicly identify the shooter, but anonymous law enforcement officials told multiple news organizations that he was 26-year-old “unnamed”. “Unnamed” had neighbors who told CBS News that he was a bit of a loner and kept to himself.

As CBS News and the Guardian reported, a blog apparently linked to “unnamed” showed an interest in mass shootings, including the shooting in Virginia this August that left two journalists dead. One blog post stated, “I have noticed that so many people like [the shooter] are alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day. Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.” That suggests a desire for fame, which experts feel is quite common among mass shooters.

So why exactly do we need to know their names? Yes, as individuals and organizations, we need to know how to react to these dangerous incidents. Yes, we need to know the value of reporting red flag behavior if observed, or read about. But why offer the enticing notoriety that might provide motivation for future tragedies. In my opinion – we shouldn’t!

For more information on how to react in an actual active shooter event check out AFIMAC’s free online course at

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Social Media and Terminations

September 22nd, 2015 Comments off

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about two types of terminations that should be considered high risk. One is when aggressive behavior violates workplace violence policies or elevates to an unacceptable level and the person has to be terminated due to that behavior. The other kind can sneak up on you and many workplace violence prevention programs do not address it. With this type, the person has displayed continuously deteriorating work performance, in spite of corrective counseling, and this leads to a termination requirement. What makes this situation high risk is that the underlying cause(s) for the deteriorating work performance can also contribute towards that person’s potential to react violently during the termination itself, or sometime afterwards. Their termination can cause an extreme sense of desperation at a time when they are the most volatile.

Furthermore, you will never know how long the person harbors ill will towards your company, or specific individuals in your company, unless you take measures to monitor them some way. One way to do this is to see their social media posts. Granted, they might password protect certain information but those who are prone to act out violently usually have less concern with privacy than their interest in publicly letting everyone know how they have been unfairly treated. Social media is a vehicle for them to do just that. Use this to your advantage post termination on the high risk cases and you might find out that the problem you thought you solved through termination has only gotten worse. On the positive side, it could also tell you that the person has come to accept what had to be done and is moving on in their life. Either way it is worth the effort or cost to take such precautions.

The most recent horrific workplace shooting of the news crew in Roanoke, VA underscores the value of knowing what is going on with someone who has been let go and remains focused on something or someone in your workplace. Not to say this could have been prevented, but having an idea that a former employee is still focused on you, allows for some possibly preventative options such as police notification, restraining orders, sponsored counseling, etc. In some of these cases, there may be indications of stress induced aggressiveness which should then serve as a red flag. Human resource personnel and the corporate security team should work together and involve third party professionals to evaluate and monitor what is going on in this person’s life.

Violence is typically a process, not an isolated event. The violence process usually has behavioral red flags along the way. This is what thorough workplace violence prevention training often outlines but it also applies to how the individual leaves the workplace depending on the circumstances of the departure.  Not realizing the desperation that a person faces, and the volatility that they represent, could be dangerous and using every tool available to gather data is prudent. The job may have been all they had left to depend on!  They are now focusing on your company as the evil force that took away the one last thing that was important to them.

For more information regarding safely conducting a termination process for all types of high risk cases, check out the courses at Also refer to for more information regarding social media investigations.

Active Shooter Response Planning

July 24th, 2015 Comments off

With every news flash of a workplace active shooter incident, now almost monthly, it becomes increasingly evident that organizations/businesses/schools need an Active Shooter Response Plan. Furthermore, this is not a one size fits all challenge. Granted, the plan from one organization or institution to another may have some common reaction guidelines. Most of the active shooter response videos and training courses available promote a variation of the ‘run/hide/fight’ responses. However, the way your employees/occupants apply these concepts in an actual incident needs to be specific to the uniqueness of your facility.

Yes, in fact there are only three response choices for facility occupants to rely upon:

  • get out – exit immediately if possible
  • hide out – lock and barricade quietly in place if escape is not possible
  • take out – mass attack the shooter if you’re cornered and fight for your life

However to be practical and effective, tailored active shooter response protocols have to take into account several factors such as:

  • The type of facility in question –school, mall, office, factory, sports complex, etc.
  • The environment in which the facility is located –city, suburban, rural, remote, etc.
  • The type of communication system available – public address system, mass texting or email, audible warning, etc.
  • The occupants’ capabilities –employees or non-employees, age, physical abilities, etc.
  • Emergency responder availability/response time
  • Public occupants vs. employees only

These are just to name a few.

Other factors will influence the variations of how ‘get out/hide out/take out’ is applied and which of these response options are selected under what conditions. Having a generic plan which defines the three basic options is only the beginning. Accounting for the uniqueness of your facility and giving example circumstances to prepare each occupant to know specifically how they should react in a situation is the key to developing an effective active shooter response plan.

Then the plan must be tested and rehearsed. Include the local emergency responders in the refinement of your plan. Lessons learned from other incidents that have occurred, and from your own rehearsals, can be used to further modify and tailor your active shooter response plan; the one that might become part of your legal defense and your clear conscience. Facility management has a legal and moral responsibility to have an active shooter response plan that is practical and will give people a chance to survive. It’s the right thing to do.

For more detailed training regarding active shooter response guidelines see our course at

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