After almost every active shooting in the United States the residents of the victim city invariably say, “It
can’t happen here”. But it does and in every state. From Hawaii and Alaska to Maine and Florida, active
shooter deaths or workplace violence homicides have plagued communities. No state is immune. No
community is unaffected by its brutality, insanity and senselessness.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported there were a total
of 13,827 workplace homicides between 1992 to 2010. Statistics from the FBI have shown that 49% of
the shootings ended prior to law enforcements arrival to the property. In reality this statistic means
employees, contractors, vendors and consumers are essential on their own until help arrives. However,
additional statistics show the average response time for law enforcement is 3 minutes while the average
active shooter event last 12 minutes. Thus, the individuals who are in harm’s way are not out of the
woods until the threat has been neutralized regardless if law enforcement is on property.
For a guest who is unfamiliar with the property he or she looks to the employee for help, guidance and
support. They hope and trust the business has trained their staff on this deadly event and that each
employee is familiar with the active shooter plan specific to their position within the property. What if
the business doesn’t have a plan for this emergency and if they do have a plan but never trained on the
plan? The plan is only meaningless paper if it is never exercised and shared with every employee.
The first step is not merely to discuss an active shooter event in a closed executive meeting, but to
develop a written plan by a team of people who are concerned with their own safety and that of the
guests. The plan cannot be developed in a vacuum, but must be prepared by a planning team. The
team may include security, safety, risk, legal, human resources, finance, union representatives, IT and
the executive office. Once drafted the base product should be distributed to a representative of each
operational department, a front line employee representative and tenants. Further, consider sharing
the base plan with contractors and vendors who are working on property, neighboring businesses and
representatives of the first responder community. In reality first responders consist of fire departments,
emergency services, paramedics and law enforcement.
A question sometime arises, “Why would the plan be shared with neighboring businesses?” When it
comes to the safety and security of employees and guests there are no corporate secrets or proprietary
marketing strategies being shared just a genuine commitment in the preservation of life. Provide a
redacted base plan if you deem it necessary. This action may also prompt the neighboring businesses to
develop their own plan. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, FBI and New York City Police Department have
indicated that 18% of the shooters are mobile, which means they can go place to place and not remain
at the scene of the first shooting. Approximately 10% stop shooting and just walk off, possibly towards
Develop a plan now, not after an event. Don’t fall into thinking about the Las Vegas odds. What are
the odds that it will happen here? Finally, what would a jury, judge, guest or employee think about a
company that does not have a written plan for their safety, trained on the active shooter plan or never
even considered developing an active shooter plan?