The problem with an active shooter is that we rarely know when and where one will spring up. If we had any inkling of an impending attack, we could take counter measures, or better still, simply not be there. But sadly, that is not how such things work and in today’s society, schools, offices, and other places where unarmed people congregate, must consider the possibility, however remote it might seem, that they could suffer an active shooter attack. And, let me point out that such an event might not be as envisioned, like a disgruntled worker or mentally deranged school shooter. It could be an armed robber, fleeing from police who happens to seek shelter in your building.
Then of course, there are the high profile, high value targets such as court houses, political offices, places of worship and the like. Such locations also, despite our highest ideals, are often selected targets for active shooters, for a variety of reasons. Just last year, a man walked into a synagogue in Pittsburg and began to open fire. There was no indication this was going to happen, until the shooting started.
So, what can an organization do to mitigate such terror? Because we often cannot reliably predict the attack, we must find ways to remain vigilant and prepared, without being paranoid.
First, all places where people gather, either for work, school, or business, should have a well-crafted plan for the active shooter. This plan should follow the model of “Run, Hide, Fight” to give the building occupants the best chances of survival. Second, the plan must be disseminated to all occupants, to the degree they are capable of understanding the plan. For example, a building filled with adults engaged in work would have a more complex understanding of the “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol than a preschool. But in either case, the plan should be rehearsed for maximum understanding. This would also give the occupants and planners a chance to fine tune the response, based on lessons learned in rehearsal.
Next, all occupants must be empowered to report suspicious or threatening behaviors. For example, if an employee is having problems with an Ex-Spouse threatening them, the employee should feel free to advise the building management team of the issue and if the Ex-Spouse is seen in the area, the police should be called. All occupants should be reminded to maintain situational awareness. If a stranger is seen, and is acting suspicious, they must be noted and management and police should be notified. Waiting until something bad happens, to notify the police of the situation, creates undue danger and a lag time response. It is far better to have the police come out and not be needed, than to wait until too late and the police response includes chalk outlines and crime scene tape.
Finally, take a hard look at your building, and if possible, make changes to the structure where you can include some types of ballistic materials for the “Hide” response. Ballistic panels now come in a variety of affordable designs that will blend into any office or school, to offer added protection.
Security Pro offers a ballistic white board which is like a superhero in disguise. By day, it is a place for teachers to put lesson plans, or business management to show quarterly earnings. But in the blink of an eye, the white board becomes a panel to hide behind. The ballistic white board will stop common military grade rifle rounds, as well as handgun rounds and even blast shrapnel. Such a board could be used in schools, offices, places of worship, even court rooms if needed. They are configured on wheels so they can be quickly positioned in front of a door while room occupants take cover, or exit via another door.
For an even larger space, Security Pro now offers ballistic panels that are designed to function as cubicles. These panels could be set up forming cubicles nearest the points of entry into a large office space, thus providing cover from the all common military grade rifle and handgun rounds. The cubicle panels also feature a coating that will mitigate ricochets and shrapnel as well.
Both of the above items are very portable, featuring wheels that once in place, can be locked until they are needed to be moved. This feature makes them perfect for large venues such that often host open or public gatherings. The panels can be moved to best protect the area, then returned to their normal work space after the event.
In this day and age, when bulletproof panels are easily acquired and employed, it makes sense to consider them. Even if you think you have a low threat level, because, as we have seen from the news, any place, can become an active shooter scene.
About the writer
Military and Law Enforcement Veteran
FBI certified firearm instructor
MP5 and Sub Machine gun instructor
Defensive tactics instructor