What Is the Best Way to Stop an Active Shooter?

Unfortunately, our country continues to be plagued by tragedies caused by individuals with unregulated access to firearms. What compounds this serious issue is the deadly consequences created by a society that allows people without the legal authority or proper mental capacity to possess weapons. There is no silver bullet or panacea to stem the tide of these horrific events that are occurring all too often, but we can take steps to create a safer environment.

An all-inclusive approach that cuts to the heart of this problem and attacks the genesis of these events is required, rather than responding to the aftermath of the event itself. Instead of focusing most of our attention, energy, and efforts on what can be done to stop an active shooter during one of these attacks, let’s step back and try to determine what caused the incident in the first place.

It All Begins at the Beginning

Your goal should be to identify individuals before they have the means, mindset, and motive to carry out their violence. These events are not spontaneous—people don’t just “snap” and set out on a killing spree. Instead they are premeditated, planned, and if you look closely enough, announced. Having your organization supported by policy is the foundation to an Active Shooter Plan. You need to have the capability to identify, assess, and control anyone exhibiting traits that can be categorized as pre-attack indicators, which without intervention could manifest into violence.

Horizontally, Vertically, and Across an Organization

“Power in numbers” is another remedial action that results in a multi-disciplinary approach with select people up, down, and parallel in your organization, designated to prevent active shooter incidents. Individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and experience will come together and work collaboratively to design a plan to mitigate this threat. After forming a committee of representatives from entities such as management, law enforcement security, medical, mental health, fire, legal, HR, and training, this group will be charged with the mission to collectively develop a strategy and processes for preventing, controlling, and resolving an active shooter scenario.

Addressing Workplace Violence Protects Against an Active Shooter

Because an active shooter event is the most serious form of workplace violence, you must focus on mitigation and creating the processes that prevent any behavior deemed irregular or inappropriate from occurring. To be adequately prepared, you need to direct your attention to security, personnel, policies, procedures, systems, and physical measures. Examples are private guards (security), clinical health professionals (personnel), code of conduct (policies), employee assistance program (procedures), blast text messaging (systems), and lock-operated access points (physical measures). All of these disciplines contribute to the framework of the plan.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Because each situation is unique, knowing the signs to look for using professional judgment or outside assistance may be necessary to determine if intervention is necessary. Some of these signs are: disruptive behavior; physical injuries; absenteeism or tardiness; poor job performance; stalking a co-worker; inappropriate comments; threatening emails; and harassing phone calls. All of these signs could be an indication of a much more serious problem that may require identifying, assessing, and managing a potential violent situation.

Out With the Old and In With the New

The antiquated way to deal with a problem was to remove it. History has taught us that eliminating the source does not resolve the issue. It used to be that workplace managers fired, police officers arrested, and school principals expelled. None of these actions puts an end to the threat; they just delay it. Eventually, people get out of jail or return to the workplace or school to bring closure for themselves. Your best remedy is to have mechanisms that not only prevent, but also treat.

All of these recommended measures that I’ve presented have to be created, implemented, and when necessary, applied. Until then, a truly holistic program is not in place to protect your most valuable assets—your people—against the threat of an active shooter.


How to Protect President Donald J. Trump

It seems that Donald J. Trump has taken the fight to the Republican Party and shows no signs of going away as a serious candidate to become the GOP presidential nominee. As a matter of fact, at this point if it were a boxing match, the referee might have to stop the bout because the other contenders are bloodied, battered and beaten. Ever since he jumped into this race, Mr. Trump has been on the attack and the mainstay of his campaign has been to punch and counterpunch his competitors as well as his critics. Just ask John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Hillary Clinton, and Megyn Kelly, to name a few, how it feels to be in the crosshairs of The Donald.

High Profile Equals High Exposure

In today’s political world, these candidates become high-profile targets because of their high exposure. Due in part to the Internet and social media, sensitive information about candidates, such as addresses of private residences, family members, salaries, and business ventures, are accessible to the public. And magnifying this exposure, the candidates are constantly attending public events, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire that require maneuvering through crowds of unscreened people at functions such as state fairs and parades. A preventative protective methodology balances ends, ways, means, and threats to identify and assess risks in these scenarios and opportunistic vulnerabilities. To reach optimum event security, a thorough process of properly trained and prepared security personnel analyze appropriate risk control measures and apply interrelated countermeasures and protective tactics to harden these events.

I Stepped Into a Burning Ring of Fire

Event security planning can be more easily described by explaining the “ring” methodology. The five rings of protection are: (1) the outer perimeter typically secured by public sector personnel at the federal, state, and local level, filtering people, equipment, and vehicles requiring event access; (2) the middle perimeter is the event security assets comprised of private security guards and law enforcement officers screening and controlling entry; (3) the inner perimeter is the restricted areas inside the event site, such as the stage; (4) the fourth perimeter is the intelligence collection and information sharing between the private and public sectors; and (5) the fifth perimeter, the life blood of the event, is cyber security dedicated to critical infrastructure, including electricity, power grid, water, and communications.

If You’re Not First, You’re Last

Armed with the “knowledge and power of the rings,” a best practice-based event security template identifies appropriate countermeasures that will lower the various levels of risk. The countermeasures and design alternatives are specifically tailored to address an event security operational plan, executive protection measures, emergency preparedness policies, interoperable communications, and risk mitigation strategies. I believe the ability to meet security, risk management, and emergency preparedness objectives will—at many critical junctures—rise or fall on whether the security team can execute-to-plan. That is the benchmark and you should never settle for anything other than the highest level of execution and performance when designing your event security and executive protection strategies.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Best practices in executive protection should be benchmarked to determine the most effective and efficient operations suitable for the candidate and the event. Following how the best executive protection programs keep apprised of emerging threats while also staying informed of industry trends in countering these risks will strengthen your own strategy. The advance work that precedes the arrival of the candidate is just as, if not more, important than the security employed during the event. A laser-focused emphasis needs to be placed on the preparations, strategies, instructions, and responses, so that if any crisis were to occur, all contingencies are in place.

Even though many of us are not experienced with protecting a presidential candidate as he or she moves through large-scale event venues, the tenants of rock solid executive protection and event security plans are still paramount to your own specific needs and situations.