Category Archive: Active shooter

Devastating attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh

Our hearts and prayers go out for the dead, wounded and survivors — all innocent victims of a blatantly anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We are deeply grateful to the first responders who ran towards the bullets and prevented the carnage from getting any worse. The messages  of solidarity, hope and revulsion to anti-Semitism offered by many public officials and community leaders reassure us of the basic goodness of our nation. Still, recent events reinforce our ongoing concern that the hatred and violence borne by homegrown violent extremists can stem from many sources and motivations. When any group or faith is at risk, we are all at risk.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the NYPD deployed heavy weapons teams, including the officers from the Critical Response Command and the Strategic Response Team, to houses of worship across the City to supplement the patrol cars in every command making additional visits to reassure congregants. We have been in touch with the NYPD, the DHS and the FBI. Currently, there is no nexus to New York or any credible, direct threat to New York or the broader Jewish community. However, the confluence of mail bombs and the Tree of Life attack could be a catalyst for other copycat attacks.

According to NYPD SHIELD, “active shooters often choose to target religious locations/houses of worship during peak times and may make use of a wide range of tactics and weapons in attacks including, but not limited to, improvised explosive devices, assault rifles, improvised incendiary devices, and knives. Religious locations/houses of worship must take into account a diversity of tactics in preparing plans and response scenarios for potential crises and routinely familiarize all staff and students with emergency-specific lock down, shelter-in-place, and evacuation procedures.”

Action steps

  • Report. Anyone who observes any suspicious behavior is encouraged to contact law enforcement immediately at 888-NYC-SAFE. If you see something, say something.
  • Overview. Look at the recent DHS publication, Mass Gatherings: Security Awareness for Soft Targets and Crowded Places, can be a great template for your security planning process. Virtually every suggestion in the document can be applied to your planning process. Organizations should “Connect, Plan, Train, and Report”. Applying these four steps in advance of a possible incident or attack can help better prepare  us to proactively think about the role that our whole community plays in the safety and security of our organizations.
  • Connect. The first step in the process is to “Connect”. You should have an ongoing relationship with your local police precinct. They should know when your services and programs are scheduled. If you don’t know your local police officials, the JCRC can help. Click here to contact us.
  • Plan.
  • Active Shooter response. Many of our contacts attended active shooter trainings offered in the New York area last week. If you could not attend either session or another training, click here for the JCRC-NY dedicated Active Shooter Resources webpage that includes resources from many sources. If you want to arrange a training the JCRC can help, based on available resources. Click here to contact us.
  • Access control. If an attacker can walk into a building unchallenged bad things will happen. No unauthorized person should be able to enter your building at any time. The first step is to develop a feasible access control policy (see our Sample Building Access Policies & Procedures) and to keep any door that cannot be monitored and controlled locked.
  • Security personnel. Guards at synagogues vary in quality, but generally, almost anything is better than nothing. Volunteers are good, trained volunteers are better. Uniformed guards (e.g., identifiable shirts, vests, blazers) can be deterrents. Guards who are off-duty or retired police or corrections officers bring experience, training and judgement. To be effective, any guard has to have clear instructions and procedures (see below). 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. For a discussion of armed vs. unarmed guards see our post Armed or unarmed security, what’s best? and a guest post here.
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).

 

 

Register for DHS Active Shooter Workshops

Posted on August 17, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is offering Active Shooter Preparedness Workshops in the New York area on October 16 (NYC) and October 19 (White Plains). For additional information and a schedule of other sites and dates  contact ASWorkshop@hq.dhs.gov.

Participants will learn how to mitigate the impacts of an active shooter incident and how to develop an initial organizational emergency action plan focused on such incidents.

Topics include:

  • Developing an Emergency Action Plan with guidance from expert instructors;
  • Identifying strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in physical security and planning considerations via break-out sessions;
  • Learning how to prevent active shooter incidents by recognizing behavioral indicators on the pathway to violence;
  • Understanding the history of significant active shooter incidents through survivor stories and expert perspectives;
  • Developing communication and incident plans for employees;
  • Building relationships with local first responders;
  • Coordinating with first responders before, during, and after an incident; and
  • Integrating public affairs into incident management.

Follow the links to see more information and to register for the New York City event on October 16, 2018 and for the White Plains event on October 18, 2018. Registration is required and seating is limited.

Click here for the JCRC-NY dedicated Active Shooter Resources webpage that includes resources from many sources.

May 5779 be a year of peace and security; what you can do to help

Posted on August 09, 2018

Rosh Chodesh Elul includes clarion calls indicating that the High Holidays are coming soon. So, now is a good time to check out a recent presentation on synagogue security or to take a deeper dive into the library of documents available on the JCRC-NY Security Resources pages. Here are some relevant selections:

High Holiday Security and Emergency Preparedness Planning Library

Topical guidance

Vulnerability, Risk and Safety Assessments and Planning

K-12 School Security Guide (2nd Edition) and School Security Survey

Posted on August 08, 2018

K-12 School Security: A Guide for Preventing and Protecting against Gun Violence (2nd ed., 2018) provides preventive (i.e., spotting potentially problematic individuals) and protective measures (i.e., policies and procedures) to address the threat of gun violence in schools.

The Guide is delivered in two parts:

  1. a PDF with general security best practices and considerations in narrative format;
  2. a Microsoft Excel-based security survey.

Together, these documents outline action-oriented security practices and options for consideration based on the results of the individual school’s responses to the survey. While the primary audience for the Guide is the K-12 community, houses of worship, nonprofits, camps, institutions of higher education or pre-K schools may also benefit from the information presented.

Active Shooter Resources

Posted on August 08, 2018

Increase in Active Shooter Incidents in 2017

The volume of active shooter incidents in the United States and the corresponding number of individuals killed and wounded in these incidents increased in 2017, furthering a trend in which the number of victims has grown each year since 2013. Active shooter incidents — which are attempts to kill people using firearms in populated areas — have occurred across all geographic regions with no identifiable patterns, according to FBI data from 2012 to 2017. The totals for 2017 are higher than each of the previous five years, but given that this data is preliminary because some shootings from 2017 remain under investigation, the final totals may be higher.

  • On average, each active shooter displayed 4 to 5 concerning behaviors over time that were observable to others around the shooter. The most frequently occurring concerning behaviors were related to the active shooter’s mental health, problematic interpersonal interactions, and leakage of violent intent.
  • In 2017, 29 active shooter incidents occurred in 15 states, which was an increase from 20 incidents in each of the previous years since 2014, according to FBI data. The October shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada-which resulted in 58 deaths and 489 injuries and the November shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas-which resulted in 26 deaths and 20 injuries-largely accounted for the rise in active shooting victims in 2017.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, 150 firearms were recovered from the 98 active shooter incidents. The firearms included 92 handguns, 37 rifles, and 21 shotguns. Many of the shootings were premediated, with planning timelines varying from days to weeks or months, according to FBI data. Numbers for 2017 are not yet available.
  • Males between the ages of 20 and 29 were responsible for most active shooter incidents between 2012 and 2017, according to FBI data; only three of the 130 shooters were female.

Planning and training tools

Background and research

  • A Study of Pre-attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States Between 2000 and 2013. FBI behaviorists believe that there is cause for hope because there is something that can be done. In the weeks and months before an attack, many active shooters engage in behaviors that may signal impending violence. While some of these behaviors are intentionally concealed, others are observable and — if recognized and reported — may lead to a disruption prior to an attack. Unfortunately, well-meaning bystanders (often friends and family members of the active shooter) may struggle to appropriately categorize the observed behavior as malevolent. They may even resist taking action to report for fear of erroneously labeling a friend or family member as a potential killer. Once reported to law enforcement, those in authority may also struggle to decide how best to assess and intervene, particularly if no crime has yet been committed.
  • Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017, The FBI designated 50 shootings in 2016 and 2017 as active shooter incidents (20 incidents occurred in 2016, while 30 incidents occurred in 2017). All 50 FBI active shooter-designated incidents during the 2016-2017 time frame were single-shooter events, and all shooters were male. Casualty numbers were dramatically higher due to three incidents: the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada; the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida; and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. As in previous years, the shooters’ ages spanned decades: from 14 to 66. No active shooter incidents took place at institutions of higher education or on military property in 2016 or 2017.
  • Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools. Office of Partner Engagement, FBI, 2016. High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of targeted violence within our borders. High schools must remain vigilant in educating their students about catalysts that drive violent extremism and the potential consequences of embracing extremist beliefs.

See an overview here, the full DHS webpage here and click here for the NYPD recommedations.

active_shooter_pocket_card_Page_2The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aims to enhance preparedness through a ”whole community” approach by providing training, products, and resources to a broad range of stakeholders on issues such as active shooter awareness, incident response, and workplace violence. In many cases, there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter, and these situations are by their very nature are unpredictable and evolve quickly. DHS offers free courses, materials, and workshops to better prepare you to deal with an active shooter situation and to raise awareness of behaviors that represent pre-incident indicators and characteristics of active shooters.

On this page:

  • Active Shooter: What Can You Do Course
  • Active Shooter Webinar
  • Active Shooter Workshop Series
  • Active Shooter: How to Respond Resource Materials
  • Options for Consideration Active Shooter Training Video
  • U.S. Secret Service (USSS) Active Shooter Related Research
  • Active Shooter Resources for Law Enforcement and Trainers: Request for Access to Joint Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Portal

Active Shooter: What You Can Do Course

DHS has developed an Independent Study Course titled Active Shooter: What You Can Do. This course was developed to provide the public with guidance on how to prepare for and respond to active shooter crisis situations.

Upon completion of Active Shooter: What You Can Do, employees and managers will be able to:

  • Describe the actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and to assist responding law enforcement officials;
  • Recognize potential workplace violence indicators;
  • Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents; and
  • Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident.

The online training is available here.

Active Shooter Webinar

A 90-minute Webinar can help the private and public sector understand the importance of developing an emergency response plan and the need to train employees on how to respond if confronted with an active shooter. The presentation describes the three types of active shooters–workplace/school, criminal, and ideological–and how their planning cycles and behaviors differ.

Active Shooter Workshop Series

Active Shooter workshops have already taken place in a number of U.S. cities and will continue to be held in a number of locations in the future. These scenario-based workshops feature facilitated discussions to engage private sector professionals and law enforcement representatives from Federal, State, and local agencies to learn how to prepare for, and respond to, an active shooter situation. Through the course of the exercise, participants evaluate current response concepts, plans, and capabilities for coordinated responses to  active shooter incidents.

If you are interested in future workshops, please contact ASworkshop@hq.dhs.gov.

Active Shooter: How to Respond Resource Materials

DHS has developed a series of materials to assist businesses, government offices, and schools in preparing for and responding to an active shooter. These products include a desk reference guide, a reference poster, and a pocket-size reference card.

Issues covered in the active shooter materials include the following:

  • Profile of an active shooter;
  • Responding to an active shooter or other workplace violence situation;
  • Training for an active shooter situation and creating an emergency action plan; and
  • Tips for recognizing signs of potential workplace violence.

Available Materials

Options for Consideration Active Shooter Training Video

Options for Consideration demonstrates possible actions to take if confronted with a active shooter scenario. The instructive video reviews the choices of evacuating, hiding, or, as an option of last resort, challenging the shooter. The video also shows how to assist authorities once law enforcement enters the scene.