In March of this year, I wrote a blog on the possibility that our next 9/11-scale attack could be in the form of coordinated soft target attacks at the same time across the country. After the tragedy in Orlando, I am even more convinced that these types of soft target attacks will continue. Furthermore, the media blitz that surrounds these acts feeds the inevitable. Granted we cannot stop the media from covering these events; however, I do think that they should be aware of when reporting becomes sensationalizing and realize where the line is. (another matter for another time)
As I stated in March, symbolic government, business, and public infrastructure targets have taken steps to increase security. They have thought about terrorist/lethal attacker threat preparation and begun threat monitoring via social media and open source investigation. This is great and needs to continue. Unfortunately, in the eyes of attackers who wish only to lash out at the diversity and freedoms of western society, easier targets are now becoming equal in value. Whether attackers are religiously motivated, anti-capitalist motivated, or life style motivated, there does not seem to be a lack of groups, or very sick individuals, that will latch onto a cause and perhaps even align themselves with other radical groups that want to attack our way of living and believing.
What are soft targets? Shopping areas, theaters and clubs, restaurants, hotels, churches, schools and tourism locations – the list goes on! Many of these types of places have been targeted and attacked somewhere in the world already. No one wants to think about this but we must. Schools have. These types of attacks are difficult to stop and very effective if not planned for. Planning needs to be in three major areas:
- Resources for preemptive intelligence gathering
- Improving deterrent physical security
- Anticipated emergency response and reaction guidance for occupants (Active Shooter Response Plan)
Whether a troubled individual or an organized group, social media and ‘dark’ websites are often used for communication, planning, and sometimes warnings by those who set out to conduct such attacks. I don’t care about privacy if violating it is what it takes to stop this! In my opinion, if the government or law enforcement in the community wants to monitor my emails, calls, social media posts and Internet activity, then do it. I have nothing to hide! We need to accept that this is what will be required to avert such attacks in the planning/warning stages. Supporting proactive law enforcement and intelligence gathering, and providing adequate physical security is the only chance these soft locations have not to become a target. I could site several cases where proactive intelligence has led to arrests before a tragedy could occur.
Physical security efforts can be a deterrent. Many ‘hospitality’ type businesses have always stated that they didn’t want to scare people away from their venues and establishments. Now the public might feel better seeing more security. They see what is happening at these potential target locations and may feel better having to go through metal detectors or seeing a few more uniformed security personnel. These proactive or deterrent measures need to become part of the cost of doing business to provide your customers a safe environment.
Finally, anticipated emergency response and reaction guidance for your occupants (employees or visitors) needs to be spelled out in your Active Shooter Response Plan. If you don’t have one, develop one, or call someone who can help you create one. The plan needs to address but not be limited to:
- Emergency communications for both internal and local emergency responders
- Reaction guidelines for occupants
- Evacuation protocols specific to active shooter/lethal attackers
- Emergency plans for internal security
- Physical security /CCTV monitoring
- Coordination with local emergency responders
- Media messaging
- Accommodations for mobility challenged
- Post incident intelligence and counseling
AFIMAC is a resource for such assistance. Hit our website or call me if you would like some suggestions at 1 800.313.9170.