Nice, France Attack: A new security challenge

July 25th, 2016 Comments off

In last month’s blog, I wrote about active shooter strategies being the next possible trend in favored terrorist tactics against soft target locations. The horrific attack along the beachfront in Nice, France at the Bastille Day celebratory fireworks that killed 84 and wounded dozens more has been more thoroughly investigated. The initial reports of this being a ‘lone wolf’ scenario were not accurate. It was well planned and premeditated as cell phone records, computer data, and other intelligence sources are indicating. Five suspects have been arrested since, suspected of being accomplices in the planning stages. The scariest dynamic of this incident, however, is the sheer simplicity of the weapon of choice. Yes, Mohamed Bouhlel did have a firearm, but that was not the primary killing instrument used. A heavily loaded truck can be quite a destructive force. That now sets a very disturbing precedent.

Besides guns and IEDs, we now have to worry about heavily loaded trucks. Make no mistake; the effectiveness of this attack will inspire others with evil intentions without the means to acquire guns or explosives. This attack now 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. The permanent types of vehicular barriers (bollards, heavy planters, and rising wedge type barriers) typically seen around buildings to stop onrushing vehicles are great but what can be done about temporary gatherings or conditions that would present the same vulnerability? The temporary tools that come to mind are:

  • The moveable jersey barriers that are used in highway construction projects
  • Arranging large parked vehicles for protection
  • Roadblocks surrounding an event
  • Devices to destroy tires of any on-rushing vehicles

None of these are guarantees but if used creatively and perhaps in layers or perimeters might afford some protection, if not a deterrent. Then there will always be the question about cost and ‘do we really need this’ type thinking. This will haunt security professionals for quite some time. For example, what will they do at the Olympics in Rio for any last minute changes regarding this type of possible threat? I wish I had all of the answers. Tactics will always change, and we have to be innovative enough to react accordingly and even try to foresee what we really don’t want to.

For more information- check out our website at

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Active Shooter as a Terrorist Tactic

June 21st, 2016 Comments off

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.


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NVCM for Customer Service Personnel

May 16th, 2016 Comments off

Non-Violent Confrontation Management (NVCM)–what is that? It is the art of de-escalating a potentially volatile situation by verbal and non-verbal techniques. In this modern age of workplace violence awareness, it is something that should be part of your basic training for employees who face the public, clients or customers, or others who are involved with your business and might have a complaint or more serious ax to grind.  Just about any business that provides services to the public has probably had incidents where a person got very emotionally charged and out of hand due to one, or both parties, failing to control the situation and letting their frustration and emotions get the better of them. Receptionists, salespeople, customer service representatives, hospitality staff, health care staff, public servants, etc., are all types of employees who could benefit from this kind of training. Often these positions are filled with people whose personality or technical skill got them the job. However, they need some additional tools when the people they have to engage with turn nasty or even potentially violent! Organizations owe these employees the training to help them deal with those circumstances.

Let me be clear that this NVCM training is not intended to help in situations that have already become extremely aggressive or violent. That’s entirely a different type of training. NVCM training applies when a situation is just beginning to show signs of stress, tension, emotion, or some loss of rational behavior. Regaining control before things get out of hand is the goal.

This type of training should include the following components:

  • Recognition of possible underlying factors
  • Recognition of the role fear plays in the engagement
  • Understanding the stages of escalating behavior
  • Verbal de-escalation techniques
  • Non-verbal de-escalation techniques
  • Environment/location alternatives
  • Setting limits
  • Posturing and body positioning for safety
  • Notification systems (getting help discretely)
  • Deciding when to break contact and seek assistance
  • Recovery –regaining calm and control

Many of these lessons I’ve learned as a police officer, doing close personal protection, and workplace violence consulting. I was able to defuse and avoid many confrontational situations that might have gotten worse if I didn’t understand these concepts. Give your employees the same tools. You owe it to them for their safety. For more information about courses available visit


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Workplace Violence Training Should be a Compliance Matter

April 26th, 2016 Comments off

Companies should be coming to the realization that a workplace violence prevention and response policy is a necessity today. It should be treated as a compliance matter even though it is not an official one like ethics or anti-corruption. This applies to both small and large companies.

It is not good enough to just have a workplace violence prevention plan that only the crisis management team, managers, and supervisors are aware of. Every employee should be trained in the fundamental concepts of the plan, not the least of which is aggressive behavior recognition. Everyone must understand that in order for the workplace violence prevention plan to work, all employees should be required to know the warning signs of what might be precursors to violence. Furthermore, they have the responsibility to report the conduct or observation.

Workplace violence in its defined form includes:

  • Violent crimes which occur in the workplace
  • Violence from a client or customer directed at an employee in the workplace
  • Aggressive behavior or bullying from one employee to another
  • Violence from former employees returning to the workplace or acting out after termination
  • Domestic relationship based violence happening at the workplace

Regardless of the nature of the incident, you are trying to prevent having these conditions go unchecked. Circumstances for potential violence are most often seen by the employees and not by supervisors or managers. All employees have to be taught how to recognize the early warning signs of aggressive behavior and to whom they should report those observations and concerns. The people who know what is going on daily are the ones who will most likely be negatively affected by it. They are the individuals in the best position to avert this behavior in its early stages. Reporting the conduct so that measures can be taken to modify the behavior is the only chance of preventing a violent incident. These employees know who is having domestic partner problems. They know who is being bullied at work. They know the habitually difficult customers. They usually know where the company is most exposed to potential crime within the workplace. Tap that resource. Let them know that they have a discrete reporting responsibility.

Furthermore, supervisors and managers must follow through and investigate when conditions are reported to them. The employees are the eyes and ears of the workplace and know what is going on.

For more about workplace violence prevention strategies and help with educating managers, supervisors, and employees, check out the educational programs at


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Active Shooter Attacks on Soft Targets – Our Next 9/11

March 22nd, 2016 Comments off

I write pretty frequently about workplace violence preparedness and response, or specific response guidelines for active shooter situations. Today my thoughts are more speculative but need to be considered. Historically, active shooter assaults have been driven by the more typical motivators of revenge, jealousy, fear or anger. They have involved domestic relationships that have gone wrong and then manifesting in the workplace. They have been a result of disgruntled employees reaching an irrational point of frustration or former employees not being able to get past being terminated. But now, on the heels of both the Paris, France attacks in November 2015, and the San Bernardino attack in December, we should ask another question. Will this type of orchestrated active shooter/suicide bomber assault on ‘soft targets’ in our communities be the tactic for the next 9/11 scale assault on the United States? 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 be done but what about easier targets of equal value in the eyes of attackers who wish only to lash out at the ‘evil infidels’ of western society. Whether religiously motivated or anti-capitalist motivated there does not seem to be a lack of terrorist groups that want to attack our way of living and believing. By soft targets, I mean shopping areas, theaters, restaurants, hotels, churches and yes schools! No one wants to think about this but we must begin to. Schools have. It is a very scary thought but some specific response plans for these types of facilities need to be developed. This is the type of attack that will be difficult to stop and very effective if not planned for, both in terms of anticipated response AND resources for intelligence gathering through social media monitoring.

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. In my opinion, if the government or law enforcement in the community wants to monitor my emails, calls, and social media posts, then do it. I have nothing to hide! The fact of the matter is we need to accept that this is what will be required to intercept such attacks in the planning stages. As a society, if we continue to make such proactive law enforcement and intelligence gathering more difficult in order to protect our privacy, then such attacks are going to happen. There has already been some level of success in this approach of proactive intelligence for prevention purposes. However, we need to open the door a little wider. It is our only defense. Otherwise, coordinated active shooter assaults paired with crude suicide bombings will begin to occur in our country because it is easier than plotting against those symbolic targets that have been reinforced.

What you can do for your organization is to develop an active shooter response plan for your facility! Check out our website for assistance at


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Arming Your Employees Against Active Shooters – Making a Bad Situation Worse!

February 24th, 2016 Comments off

There is always debate after a tragic school or workplace active shooter incident over employees wanting to take their protection into their own hands. Yes, certain states have laws which allow employees to have their firearms with them if they have completed the necessary background checks and training, and have acquired the required permits. On the other hand, companies and other organizations should have workplace violence policies which prohibit their employees from bringing guns on property, even locked in their car in the parking lot. So where should prudent workplace violence policies draw the line?

Practically speaking, an employee would very rarely be in a realistic position to safely and effectively employ a weapon in an actual active shooter situation. There are some harsh realities about firing a personal weapon accurately in a tense ‘combat’ situation. The average citizen cannot effectively engage a hostile shooter under the typical active shooter ‘combat’ conditions without hurting any innocent bystanders or co-workers, or getting themselves killed. They don’t have the necessary training or the mindset. There are also further dangers created by the armed employee attempting to take protective action.

Let’s think about some of these realities and further dangers. You can shape your own 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.
  • What liabilities exist for the company and the defending employee, if they engage a personal weapon defensively but miss and hit an innocent person nearby?
  • If the weapon is going to be defensively used in an active shooter incident, it would have to be in a position to be reached quickly, 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 simply because others know about that personal weapon in the workplace? (And others will know about its presence)
  • 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.
  • How are the responding police officers, who already have limited information about the suspect(s), know that your armed employee is not the active shooter?
  • Personally, if I was 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 wouldn’t do me much good if it wasn’t 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 the 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 property. Having them locked in the car in the parking lot is still debatable.

An active shooter response plan should be part of this workplace violence policy. 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, at that point having a weapon would be useful.  However, not everyone would have that discipline to stick to the policy and get out first and not try to play hero, potentially making matters worse for the responding police.

It is essential that you consider these practical concerns when formulating your active shooter response plan as part of your larger workplace violence prevention plan.

Check out our workplace violence and active shooter response training courses.

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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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