Posts Tagged ‘security guards’

Active Assailant Strategies Using Vehicles

April 24th, 2017 Comments off


Active shooter and lethal assailant strategies are becoming the next possible trend in favored terrorist tactics against soft target locations. The horrific attack last year along the beachfront in Nice, France at the Bastille Day celebratory fireworks that killed 84 and wounded dozens more has provided a demonstration of an easy means of lethal attack to others. Smaller scale but similar attacks have now happened on a college campus at Ohio State and most recently in London. I think this is just the beginning of a new trend for mass killing with a tool that is readily available to anyone – a vehicle. The initial reports on the incident in Nice stating that is was a ‘lone wolf’ scenario were not accurate. It was well planned and premeditated as cell phone records, computer data, and other intelligence sources indicated. Multiple suspects were arrested, suspected of being accomplices in the planning stages. The scariest dynamic of this incident and the others that have followed, however, is the sheer simplicity of the weapon of choice. Yes, the Nice attacker 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. A very disturbing precedent has been set, and it is being copied on perhaps a smaller scale with normal sized vehicles.

Besides guns and IEDs, we now have to worry about vehicular attacks at places where people gather. Make no mistake; the effectiveness and ease of these attacks will inspire others with evil intentions without the means to acquire guns or explosives. 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. The permanent types of vehicular barriers (bollards, heavy planters, and rising wedge/delta type barriers) typically seen around buildings to stop onrushing vehicles are great, and that may have to become more of the norm in security-conscious construction. However, 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 and Embassy complexes around the world (multiple layers of them would have to be used to stop a large truck)
  • Arranging large parked trucks for protection
  • Devices to destroy tires of any on-rushing vehicles – outside of the barriers
  • Roadblocks surrounding an event and concentric perimeter zones checking credentials and each visitors’ purpose
  • Closing off roads surrounding an event. (if the scale of the event warrants)

None of these are guarantees, but if used creatively and perhaps in layers or combinations they might afford some protection, if not a deterrent. Then there will always be the question about cost and ‘do we really need this’ type of thinking. This will haunt security professionals for quite some time. For example, what will become the standard for large sports venues regarding this type of threat as the crowds gather for entry? I think about it when I am standing in those lines with my family. I wish I had more answers. Tactics will always change, and we will have to be innovative enough to react accordingly and even try to foresee what we really don’t want to.

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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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