Category Archive: Active shooter

To evacuate or not to evacuate? That is the question.

With over 150 hoax bomb threats reported, you should have already have a plan. However, the ongoing threats should serve as a reminder to review  our ongoing guidance, make use of the resources and implement the recommendations, as appropriate.

Should we be worried? At this time the experts conclude that the series of
incidents referencing threats against schools, Jewish facilities and businesses likely do not represent a credible terrorist threat for two reasons:

  1. terrorists’ rarely provide operational insight into their planning, and
  2. the fact that nearly all hoaxes in the United States are conducted by criminal actors or those instigating a nuisance prank.

What are my options? Many security experts question the wisdom of the policy of evacuation. After all, a terrorist could trigger an evacuation of a facility with a simple phone call and then attack the evacuees in multiple ways. On the other hand, someone could place 100 hoax bomb threat calls, but actually plant a bomb on the 101st. (In rebuttal, why make a warning phone call when simply planting the bomb works).

The bottom line is that there is no perfect solution, so all institutions should think about their options and consult with local law enforcement in the absence of the pressure of an actual emergency.

  • Set up a meeting with your local police to review and discuss your options.
  • There is no perfect solution. This is an issue that should be raised at a security committee or board meeting. Remember, your reputation is at stake and your decision may create liability issues.
  • Identify possible options leading to a sheltered evacuation, i.e., one that minimizes the dangers of an attack on evacuees:
    • Is your parking lot a relatively safe area? Could you evacuate there and stand an appropriate distance from your facility? Is there a sheltered path to an adjoining building? Can the local police establish a perimeter to protect the evacuees?
    • Develop appropriate protective measures based on your facility’s characteristics. For example, some facility managers have identified areas (e.g., a pool or gym) that are not cluttered and therefore, easy to check for bombs. If the architecture of the building is engineered so that the building would not likely collapse on those inside, one option is to evacuate people to these safe (or more accurately, safer) places (HT to Steve Levy of ISA).
  • Communicate, early and often. If you decide not to evacuate, some stakeholders will question your judgement and try to second-guess you. A well-planned sheltered evacuation option is easy to explain and to show that your highest priority is the safety of your stakeholders. Whatever you choose, have pre-written messages ready to go should you become a target.

No one can give you a perfect answer. Identify your options, consult with the best people possible and keep your people safe.

Armed or unarmed security, what’s best?

The answer is, it depends. The question comes up at almost every one of our security training sessions. Honestly, there are both advantages and disadvantages of either option. Guns and Security: the Risks of Arming Security Officers in the December issue of Security Management (a publication of the security industry trade association, ASIS) discusses many of the issues that must be considered.

Each organization must carefully weigh the pluses and minuses themselves, as applied to their building, their constituencies and their culture. Since this decision could possibly affect your brand, your reputation and/or your liability, it is advisable to include your board of directors in the decision. If your organization is leaning towards armed security, we suggest four “best practices”:

  1. Hire any armed security guard on the basis of their experience, training and judgement rather than their weapon. If you hire e.g., an off-duty/retired law enforcement officer, you are hiring much more than their gun.
  2. Deploy armed guards as one element of a multi-layer security plan. If a determined intruder is targeting a specific institution, a solo guard (armed or not) may become the first, unfortunate target without any opportunity to even his/her weapon.
  3. Contract with an outside firm. Given the documented risks associated with armed guards (outlined in the Security Magazine article), consider contracting with an independent vendor and make sure that they are responsible for the supervision of armed guards, all aspects of the armed guard’s ongoing training and compliance with governmental training, licensing and other requirements.
  4. Discuss your decision with your insurer. Whether the armed guard is, or is not, your employee you may have some liability and/or named in any lawsuit. Make sure that your insurer knows about your decision and that your are appropriately and adequately covered. (n.b., Some institutions employ an outside security consultant to manage their employees. A discussion between the security consultant and the insurer may assuage the concerns raised by the insurer).

NYPD does have a Paid Detail Unit which provides officers to perform off-duty, uniformed security work within New York City for approximately $45/hour.  Click here for more information and contact details. Of course, the above recommendations still apply.

Quick tips: What should your guard(s) be doing?
no-potted-plantGuards should not be merely uniformed potted plants adorning your lobby. Rather, they should be an important and active component of your overall security plan.

If you have a single guard, his/her logical priority is access control (see our suggestions on how to develop an access control policy here). At the same time, don’t lose sight of other important functions, including:

  • Vigilance. While they are on duty they can observe what is going on outside your building and monitor CCTV, possibly leading to the early detection of hostile surveillance or imminent hostile acts. See our suggestions for detecting hostile surveillance here.
  • Walk-arounds. Remember the Chelsea bombs? They were hidden in a trash container and a suitcase. If someone planted a device in your garbage can would anyone find it? One best practice is to have your guard tour your facility, inside and out, looking for something that “Just doesn’t look right”.
  • Notifications.Your guard should be given defined protocol and procedures if something “Just doesn’t look right” : who to notify (e.g., senior staff, general alarm), how to act and what else to do.
  • Crisis management. A well trained guard should be able to follow the protocols and procedures defined by you. They should be able to support responses such as bomb threats, evacuations and/or sheltering-in-place.

The security management industry calls instructions for guards, “post orders” which clearly outline the duties, responsibilities, and expectations of security guards. For example, your post orders should clearly set forth your access control policies and define the areas of your property that should be included in a walk-around and their time and frequency (e.g., upon arrival and upon returning from lunch).

 

JCRC: training here, training there

The past few months have been busy with JCRC-NY coordinating major  training sessions for hundreds of institutions in the NY area. There is a heightened awareness of the potential for attacks and a willingness on the part of organizations to “Step up their Game.”

All of the trainings focused on security/terrorism awareness, building a culture of security within organizations and active shooter responses. Kudos and thanks to our wonderful partners, including: NYPD Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. Our common goals are to strengthen the ties between law enforcement and nonprofit organizations and to empower them by giving them to tools and knowledge to respond as well as possible. Here’s some examples of our recent work: Continue Reading

Training opportunity: Stepping up our game | Jan 5

Stepping up our game

 

Focus on resources: DHS Protective Security Advisors

Posted on August 03, 2015

PSA imageRecently, we received an inquiry from an out-of-state colleague. Some of his questions could be answered over the phone, but it was clear that an on-site consultation was in order.

I asked my colleague, “Do you know your Protective Security Advisor (PSA)?” He replied, “What?”

DHS employs PSA’s in all 50 states and many states have multiple regions. Our experience here in NY is that our PSA’s are a wonderful resource. They are hard-working, knowledgeable and professional.

  • Security surveys. Subject to time constraints you can ask your PSA to conduct security surveys and assessments of your facilities. We’ve joined our PSA’s during some of these sessions and their suggestions are both sound and pragmatic.
  • Training. PSA’s have access to a wide variety of training options, e.g. active shooters, suspicious packages, severe weather. Even if you don’t know your exact need, talk to them. They can open up a variety of resources for you.
  • Special events planning. Let them know if you are planning a high profile event. They can advise you on security and logistical issues.
  • Outreach. Get on their radar. They will invite you to various trainings and events.

Click here for more information on Protective Security Advisors. To contact your local PSA, please contact PSCDOperations@hq.dhs.gov. To contact NY PSA’s or if you have questions or need other assistance please complete the form below.