Posts Tagged ‘Protection’

The Role Unarmed Security Officers Can Play in Response to Active Shooter Attacks

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off

I write pretty frequently about workplace violence preparedness and response, and specific response guidelines for active shooter situations. Most of the training that addresses this topic centers on immediate notification procedures, occupant reaction guidelines, evacuation recommendations, and assisting armed police who come to deal with the assailant. There is often an assumption that unarmed security officers are incapable of doing anything to help in the response plan because they cannot neutralize the attacker without being armed. While it is true we should not expect them to put themselves in harm’s way to seek out and attempt to stop the assailant; there are in fact many functions that the unarmed security officer can perform just before, or after, they evacuate themselves.

In a proactive/preventive vein, they can remain diligent in their daily post observations and be alert for security breaches and any red flag behavior that might indicate an internal problem with a particular individual. Just reporting an observation of out of character behavior, or overly aggressive exchanges with others could be enough to start the preliminary investigative effort, which might uncover a more serious problem brewing. Often they get to know the employees well enough to notice behavioral indicators, and usually have a keener eye for such behaviors than do co-workers who might not notice, or might not want to report it if they do.

In the active shooter response plan, there is a lot more that they can and should be expected, and depended upon, to do.  They are typically going to be one of the first ones to receive the panicked call from an employee/witness that an armed assault has occurred. They then are going to have to begin the entire notification chain that launches the specific response/evacuation plan. They will have to be trained to handle this responsibility correctly, and quickly because seconds matter once this lethal event begins. They are going to have to know the entire response plan and everyone’s role in it. They are likely going to become a conduit of communication between facility management and the responding police throughout the duration of the incident. This will eventually be from the designated Emergency Communications Center (established in any response plan). Once primary notification responsibilities have been satisfied, and the evacuation has begun, the unarmed officers should evacuate along with everyone else, but they will have other duties related to the evacuation and assisting with the police response. These duties could include any of the following:

  • Report to designated locations to assist the first police officers on the scene with gaining access into the building if it is typically secured with badge access
  • Assisting for a limited time with those evacuating
  • Reporting to the designated Emergency Communications Center to help with:
    • Monitoring of incoming phone calls related to the incident
    • CCTV monitoring to see if they can spot the location or progress of the shooter
    • Being a communication liaison with the responding police
  • Assisting with treatment of the wounded who have been able to make it out of the facility but still need first aid treatment until professional/public EMS arrives
  • Helping with the accountability of employees who have evacuated the building
  • Staffing evacuation assembly points (if they have been designated in the response plan)
  • Keeping others from entering or re-entering the facility

These are just some of the duties that these officers can be assisting with so that the armed police can focus on the difficult task of searching for, and neutralizing the assailant(s).

For more information, see How Unarmed Security Officers Can Respond to Active Killer Situations
What you can do for your organization’s security personnel is train them in understanding, accepting and performing these roles, within your active shooter response plan. Make sure they realize that they play a significant role in it! For further information on Active Shooter Response Planning, check out our website for assistance 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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