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Another tragic active shooter incident has occurred, this time in Jacksonville, FL. Sadly, no one suspected that one the players would end up being the shooter at this video game competition. Why hadn’t this been considered? Every organization and even event planners should always be looking for ways to keep their employees and patrons safe. This is where a security plan comes in. While I don’t know the specifics of their security plan in Jacksonville, it clearly was not sufficient for an active shooter response.

The importance of a proper security plan for every organization or event cannot be overstated. Creating one doesn’t have to be difficult. A solid security plan will help with active shooter response. It will also help with other forms of workplace violence and theft. Here’s how you do it. First, a well-formulated security plan needs to be designed with preventative and detective measures. Second, it should utilize a mix of architectural elements, operational elements, and security system elements. Plans can be simple or highly complex. It all depends on location, the number of attendees, and various other factors. Using technology can greatly enhance your security and limit your vulnerabilities.

Let’s examine each element.


Physical Deterrents:

· Solid doors with reinforced locks and hinges can help when the need to barricade is necessary. There are also many products on the market that allow you to secure outward and inward opening doors, and even those with closer arms.

· Window coverings for room windows, as well as windowpanes on doors will help conceal the occupants inside.

· Lighting can illuminate dark areas where an attacker can hide, and can even operate with a motion sensor to give the appearance of an actively guarded location

· Locking systems on doors can help keep intruders out

· Fencing and barricades also add a good level of deterrence but may require patrolling if the area cannot be monitored remotely

· Vehicle barriers are a great deterrent to prevent vehicle attacks, especially in open area events

Restricted Access:

· This is by far the most critical and cost effective strategy in defending against an active shooter

· Single point entry is recommended with secured doors that require either card access or authorization access from security

· For schools and daycares, self-locking doors for classrooms are ideal but may violate fire codes

· Fencing/Roping off restricted areas or staging points is critical

Operational Elements:

· Having a well-trained staff that understands the security policies and procedures is highly important

· Staff understanding of security system operations is also vital

· Staff has a solid understanding of protocols for responding to an emergency such as an active shooter incident


Video Surveillance:

· Must be staffed by security personnel at all times

· Serves as an early warning system so that emergency protocols can be initiated

· Exterior points of entry and main corridor video surveillance can provide advanced notice of any active shooter or intruder

· The ability to provide the exact location, and description of the shooter is critical information that can be passed on to police in real time

Notification Systems:

· Having the ability to alert staff, students, and visitors of an active shooter or other critical emergency is vital

· Loud speaker/intercom systems, panic buttons, phone/text notification systems, and sign boards can help get the information out so that everyone can run, hide, or fight

Gunshot Detection Systems:

· This is by far the most costly security measure, however it can be very valuable as it is a great early warning system for incidents involving a firearm

· The system identifies the location of gunshots by sensors placed throughout a location. Some identify the muzzle flash when a gun is fired.

· The main drawback, other than cost, is that is that it won’t pick up alternative weapons such as edged weapons, blunt objects etc.

Social Media Monitoring:

· Some businesses monitor social media for customer reviews, but did you know you can also use it for security applications?

· Active Shooter suspects typically give clues, especially on social media, that they are going to do something

· Open Sources Intelligence analytics can provide data to identify individuals that may be planning an attack

· Many police agencies are beginning to utilize this technology in an effort to combat these horrific events


All of these systems have their individual strengths, however they work best when in conjunction with each other. An automated system can also save time by removing the need for someone to make the notification of an emergency. You must understand your system’s capabilities, and the training required to stay proficient with it.

Although there are many products and technologies available, in the end, it comes down to affordability. Active shooter response plans are no longer a suggestion. They are critical. A comprehensive program is ideal, however, any of these items can add benefits to your overall security program.

Not sure what system would work best for your organization? Call today for a free consultation. We can help you identify your risks and design a security response plan and policy for your organization.

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