Stopping an Active Shooter Is More Than Run, Hide, Fight

Unfortunately, our country continues to be plagued by horrific active shooter incidents such as what occurred at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport last week as we remember those who lost their lives or were injured in the attack. Because of the constant reoccurrence of these tragedies, the Department of Homeland Security created the action phrase  ̶ ̶  Run, Hide, Fight. These instructions have become almost instinctive and such a key part of our culture that under extreme duress, such as an active shooter incident, ordinary citizens know how to react appropriately. And this knowledge of what to do will hopefully save their lives and possibly the lives of others.

Although I acknowledge the importance of Run, Hide, Fight, I also understand how much more needs to be considered in order to protect ourselves against an active shooter. Run, Hide, Fight instructs us primarily on what to do during an incident, but what also needs to be taught is how to prevent the incident from occurring in the first place. The year 2017 offers us an opportunity to pause, reassess, and look at two critical elements associated with active shooters—cause and mitigation.

Starting at the Beginning Is a Good Place to Start

After an active shooter incident occurs, the post-incident investigation traces the history of the shooter to determine possible association to the victims and the scene of the crime and often reveals a number of clues that show the active shooter was on a pathway to violence. Some of these warning signs include inappropriate posts or disturbing videos on social media, violent outbursts, threatening comments, and dramatic changes in appearance.

Because each of these incidents needs to stand on its own, we don’t have a universally accepted profile to identify a potential active shooter—so having the preventative strategies in place before an incident offers one key measure to mitigating it. If you know what indicators to look for and have access to professional assistance, such as mental health services, you may be able to determine if intervention is necessary. Any of these signs could be an indication of a much more serious problem that may require identification, assessment, and management of a potential violent situation by a team of professionals with a diverse skill set.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail  

So far, I’ve talked about what to do during an active shooter scenario (run, hide, fight) and the actions to take to prevent irregular behavior (identify, assess, manage) from deteriorating into an act of violence. A holistic strategy will feature all of these recommendations along with a number of other preventative disciplines in order to deter, delay, or deny the possible occurrence of an active shooter incident.

You can help to efficiently and effectively ensure safety and security with the proper planning, awareness, education and training necessary to respond to an active shooter. And the best way to implement these measures is to capture the essential processes in an Active Shooter Plan. The plan needs to be adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational and ideally prepares everyone for all hazards—natural, accidental, and intentional.

One Is the Loneliest Number  

A site-specific Active Shooter Plan, such as for a commercial property or higher education campus, is not created by one person, or even a small group of people. In other words, your plan isn’t written in a vacuum. A multi-disciplinary approach is required and demands collaboration between internal and external stakeholders that are invested in the process. Individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and experience can come together and work side-by-side to design a plan to mitigate this threat. In-house staff can include security, legal, HR, facilities, maintenance, and emergency management while outside constituents are typically contract security, law enforcement, fire department, medical, and local emergency managers.


Welcome To Safe University (SAFE U)!

YOUR PARTNER IN CAMPUS SECURITY

Safe UniversityWhen the safety of your people is one of your top priorities and your college’s reputation is one of your most valuable assets, you’ll do whatever it takes to provide a safe environment for your students, staff, and visitors. High profile incidents such as mass shootings and sexual attacks at several universities have put the topic of campus crime in the public eye today more than ever before.

Conscientious and well-informed university personnel know that adequate staffing, multi-disciplinary involvement, sufficient resources, appropriate policies, and external support make these incidents less likely to occur—and make leaders more prepared if they do. Safe University (Safe U) partners with you to supplement and enhance your existing security programs by tailoring best practices to your unique situation and campus culture

HOW SAFE U BENEFITS YOUR SCHOOL AND YOUR PEOPLE
Safe U partners with you to create a safe campus environment by ensuring current policies, procedures, personnel, physical measures, technology, and training are at an industry best practice level. Through coordination and integration for preventative security, emergency preparedness, and incident response, Safe U identifies the steps necessary to ensure that students, faculty, visitors, family members, guests, and friends are not exposed to harm.
Our Safe U program specifically tailors best practices in these areas to your unique environment:
• Processes: policies, procedures, plans, and programs
• Personnel: management, police, public safety, and security
• Technology: cameras, access control, alarms, notifications, and call/assistance station boxes
• Emergency preparedness: weather, fire, power, and intruder
• Education awareness and training: classes, exercises, and web-based
• Event planning and management: school-sponsored functions
• Background screening and drug testing: scope, pre- and post-employment
• Physical security: fences, gates, barriers, lighting, and locks
• Regulatory compliance: Title IX, Violence Against Women Act, and Clery Act
PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE, CAMPUS AND BRAND BY BENCHMARKING WITH THE BEST

Studies show that although 86% of higher educational schools have an emergency operations plan, more than 1 in 4 have not had a hazard and vulnerability assessment to develop appropriate all-hazard emergency planning. We’ll share with you knowledge gained from safeguarding global corporations, high profile individuals, major events, and campuses around the country to protect what’s most important.

ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF SAFETY THROUGH SAFE U’S OBJECTIVE REVIEW

By providing objectivity through an independent analysis of your current resources, Safe U ensures a holistic security strategy by sharing the extensive expertise of our team. G. Michael Verden, CEO and Owner of The Lake Forest Group, is a global security expert with a distinguished 21-year career with the United States Secret Service. As a Special Agent, he served on the Presidential Protective Division, Dignitary Protective Division, and Counter Assault Team and assisted in the security and protection of facilities and people for major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, and the Women’s Soccer World Cup, among others. As Director of Security for the NBA, he supervised security for the NBA All-Star Game, NBA Finals, and World Basketball Championships. Mike will personally guide the Safe U program to assess and evaluate your current security needs and provide options to optimize your strategic security plan and emergency management plan.


The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

This blog is by guest writer, Mr. John Savas, who has more than 25 years of human resource experience in both corporate and consulting roles, and has worked with a variety of industries in public and private companies, family-owned businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Workplace Violence and Domestic Violence are Related

People often wonder why we talk about domestic violence in the same breath as workplace violence. After all, one happens at home and the other is usually some ticked off former employee who goes back to the office to wreak havoc, right? While the former employee scenario is just one of many types of workplace violence, other perpetrators of workplace violence include disgruntled employees, criminal outsiders, and those who have a personal relationship with the victim. This last one is normally characterized as domestic violence that spills over into the workplace with women at a higher risk of being victims of this type of violence.

The Numbers Do Not Lie  

Statistics tell us that one in four women is likely to be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Consider the enormity of that statistic and then think about your own workplace. That means that virtually every business has women who have been, currently are, or will be victimized by a partner. In 2014, 7% of workplace homicides were a direct result of a personal relationship. It is so important for companies like yours to step up efforts as they relate to domestic violence. Aside from it being the right thing to do to protect your employees and provide them a safe and supportive environment in which to work, businesses are incurring significant costs as a direct result of domestic violence, above and beyond the effects of the actual violence that occurs at work.

Understanding the Health Issues of Workplace Violence

The cost of domestic violence for your business usually falls into one of two categories: health benefit costs and lost productivity. Let’s spend a moment talking about health benefit costs. Did you know that one in three women seen in an emergency room is there as a direct result of domestic violence? Health care costs for women of domestic violence are in excess of $2,000 more each year than those of other similarly situated women. And that estimate is based on the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. Less extreme examples such as mental, emotional, and verbal abuse also result in medical plan usage, but statistics are not readily available for these issues.

Lost Productivity from Absence and Abuse  

As for lost productivity, some conservative estimates put absenteeism for victims just over eight days per year, but once again, this only accounts for the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. And what about non-absentee lost productivity? Victims of domestic violence are distracted at work due to physical, mental, and emotional abuse.

Domestic Violence Mitigation in the Workplace     

Effective workplace violence policies can make a difference in the lives of the women who work in your organization in addition to creating a supportive workplace culture. Do your policies encourage open communication between employees and your organization? Do your employees feel that they can confide in you if they are experiencing threatening behavior at home without fear of retribution in the form of disciplinary action, lost wages, or possible termination?

When it’s all said and done, the costs to the company for domestic violence can be significant, whether it spills into the workplace or not. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed your policies, outreach and support programs, and how you handle domestic violence in the workplace? We’re here to help.

Mr. John Savas has been exposed to virtually all areas within HR throughout his career and has been instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous workplace violence prevention and intervention programs, including domestic violence in the workplace. John speaks and trains frequently on topics such as performance management, leadership, harassment and discrimination, and workplace violence.

 


When Domestic Violence Spills Over into the Workplace

This blog is by guest writer, Ms. Pam Paziotopoulos, Esquire, an attorney and national expert in workplace, domestic, and partner violence. Ms. Paziotopoulos is a Strategic Advisor for The Lake Forest Group.

Domestic Violence Spillover

While we consider the Orlando shootings an act of terrorism, many of us might not think of them as an example of workplace violence. The ex-wife of the shooter told reporters that he was prone to violent behavior and physically abused her. He also isolated her from her family, who worked to persuade her to leave the marriage. This was a case of a domestic situation that escalated into violence that infiltrated the Pulse nightclub. In the also tragic Sandy Hook incident, the shooter took the life of his mother and then went to the school to commit one of the most horrific crimes of our time. Once again, domestic violence infiltrated our society.

What can we do? Of course we can’t prevent all of these incidents, but we can make certain that our workplaces have the tools that we need to do everything in our power to prevent these acts from occurring at our organizations. Do you have policies? Training? Incident management teams?  Have you trained your staff to observe and report any behavioral changes of other employees or customers to security? People never snap—there are always pre-incident indicators. As our colleagues at homeland security say, “If you see something, say something.” Taking that extra step to tell someone could save not one life, but many.

Stalking in the Workplace  

Traditionally, prosecutors and law enforcement “react” to crimes after they are committed, such as when someone is shot, injured, or murdered. There are few methods that apply techniques to avoid further violence. The mentality is just to “wait.” We know now that there is no time to wait. We must intervene before the violence escalates. It was this mentality that made it difficult for law enforcement, prosecution, and the judiciary to address stalking cases. Initially, we were puzzled by these cases. With other cases, prosecutors have medical records, paramedic reports, photos of crime scenes, photos of victim’s injuries, and the testimony of independent witnesses. However, in many stalking cases, there are no injuries so there are no pictures, no medical records or paramedic reports, and no crime scene photos. Professionals working in this field must refine their interviewing questions to ensure that they are getting sufficient “behaviors of concern” background information on the case. They must strive to gain insight on how far along the offender is on his path to acting out in a violent manner against the victim or other victims.

Some states have passed laws allowing behaviors of concern/risk factors to be introduced in the case to assess the dangerousness of an offender. Ask yourself. Are you prepared? Do you have a comprehensive workplace violence policy that conforms with the recommendations from the FBI, ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security), SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), and the ABA (American Bar Association)? Do you have a threat management team that is specifically trained on risk assessment and stalking in intimate partner violence cases? Are you creating a culture where your employees feel comfortable divulging information about their unhealthy and possibly dangerous relationships? Make absolutely certain they are communicating that information to your security personnel. It’s the most critical first step in ANY prevention program.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do  

A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Eugene Rugala, who at the time was the Supervisory Special Agent for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime for the FBI. Gene and I worked on a number of projects together and also analyzed domestic violence homicides. Gene’s division went on to do a formalized study. The results were fairly predictable and solidified what we thought to be true. The homicide generally occurred directly after separating from the abuser. Thus, we know that during the separation the victim enters a dangerous zone. The first question that should be asked in a preliminary risk assessment is “Have you told the abuser that you intend to leave this relationship or have you already curtailed it?”

It is a well-known fact that in most domestic violence homicides the victim had either recently communicated to the perpetrator that the relationship was at an end or had already terminated the relationship. If the answer to this question is “yes,” the employer will know that the victim will be entering (or already has entered) a potentially very dangerous situation. It is imperative that the employer work with the victim to devise a safety plan for home and for work while looking for ways to adjust the victim’s work schedule and/or workload to ensure that the individual is protected arriving to and leaving from work, as well as during work hours.

Tailored Solution for Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention   

The Lake Forest Group provides fully-customized solutions for companies, colleges, and organizations for the prevention and intervention of violence in the workplace. Implementing a comprehensive workplace violence program requires more than drafting a policy—it requires training, communications, and management commitment. We begin each engagement with a needs assessment that outlines the gaps and opportunities in an effective workplace violence prevention and intervention program, tailoring the program to fit the unique needs of each business and leveraging Pam’s extensive experience in workplace and domestic partner violence.