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Tackling the Active Shooter Trend

As the trend of school and workplace shootings in this country continues to escalate, what can the security community do to help the public at large identify the next active shooter and prevent him or her from completing the walk down the path to violence?

By Karl J. Paloucek

In September of this past year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released the results of a study examining 160 active shooter incidents that took place between 2000 and 2013. The aim of this study was to provide first responders with information to assist in the preparation and response to such events, in the hopes of saving lives and keeping themselves out of harm’s way as best as possible. An overview of the study’s findings illustrates some of the facts about this trend in violence, but analysis is only part of the puzzle of how to respond to such incidents.

Connecticut School Shooting
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

At the most recent InfraGard quarterly meeting, two presenters, Bureau spokesperson Jill Pettorelli and Robert Davis, Senior Vice President of West Coast Operations at security risk management firm Hillard Heintze presented to attendees on issues of active shooter prevention and tactical response. The questions raised by the speakers addressed the core issues concerning those hoping to manage active shooter situations in the future, such as: How do these incidents play out? Why do shooters do what they do? And what are the most effective strategies, both for preventing an at-risk individual or group from acting out a lethal fantasy, and for engaging everyone from first responders to those in business management to proactively take a leadership role in creating an active shooter response plan.

Most incidents involving an active shooter end in mere minutes — typically before first responders even make it to the scene. For this reason, Pettorelli asserted, it’s imperative that businesses and institutions of every stripe establish an efficient, achievable plan for the active shooter contingency.