Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Active Shooter Response Options

September 6th, 2017 Comments off

Want to learn more? Watch our Aggressors and Active Shooters in the Workplace webinar below and register for our Active Shooter Online Training course here: 

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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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Domestic Violence Can Lead to Workplace Active Shooters?

November 28th, 2016 Comments off

In a recent client assessment for active shooter response preparedness, I asked the question whether any act of lethal violence had ever occurred at the facility. The response was no, but a case of spousal abuse had taken place in the parking lot across the street – their employee parking lot!

It is not always the disgruntled former employee who engages in active shooter massacres. Domestic violence that builds up over time can lead to such tragedies as well. Because of this, your workplace violence policy should address the reporting of domestic abuse as a requirement, not just a suggestion. This includes the observation of it happening to a co-worker. The policy should give clear reasons why this is necessary, and perhaps list examples of cases where domestic violence exploded within the workplace. Did you know that 74% of the reported cases of domestic abuse also reported that some of the abuse actually took place in the victim’s work area? Consider that even if an abused spouse or partner secures a restraining order for the home, or if the victim moves, the next most predictable place to find that victim is at work. Now others are exposed to the danger!

It used to be that companies did not want to get involved with domestic abuse experienced by one of their employees. There was a ‘check your personal problems at the door’ attitude. That demeanor is now flat out dangerous. The violent spouse or partner in a fit of rage, seeking the victim at their workplace, does not always confine the violence to just the victim. The company or organization has a moral and legal responsibility to be aware of such abusive activity and foresee that it could enter the workplace and become everyone’s problem. The courts will certainly look at it that way, should an incident occur in the workplace and someone else is hurt.

If the victim’s co-workers are aware of the abuse, then the organization needs to be aware of it too. Therefore, your policy needs to make all of your employees aware of their responsibility to report such a situation for a discrete investigation. Besides doing the right thing to help the victim employee, your knowledge of the abuse, and subsequent actions taken to protect that individual and the work environment will become part of your defense. It might even prevent a violent incident. Options could include:

  • Counseling or other Employee Assistance Program (EAP) intervention
  • Relocating the affected employee within the office to a new workspace
  • Changing their schedule to avoid nighttime parking
  • Transferring them to another facility

Make some accommodations that will either help with the problem or reduce the likelihood that the problem will manifest itself at work in a violent manner. OSHA’s general duty clause maintains the expectation that the workplace is made safe from foreseeable dangers and this is one of them.

Please explore our online training courses available at for workplace violence prevention courses as well as other security disciplines.

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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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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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