Category Archive: Active shooter

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 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute.

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.

Can we identify potential active shooters? The FBI can help.

Posted on July 06, 2018

The FBI just published 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 to prevent active shooter attacks 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. Train your staff and others to be on the lookout for signals, report them and be prepared to convey concerns to law enforcement agencies. You can read their key findings below and a wide variety of active shooter background and planning resources at: www.jcrcny.org/activeshooter.

Posted in Active shooter

New DHS action guides for soft targets and crowded places

Posted on June 21, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently posted new resources for soft targets (virtually all nonprofits are considered soft targets) and crowded places. These are clear and concise (two page) action guides:

All of these guides offer excellent suggestions and can be used for training purposes. We urge you to take a look and to put them to good use.

We get letters…Thoughts on armed or unarmed

Guest post
Pinchas Levin
TaryagDefense.com

A little over a year ago we published a post, Armed or unarmed security, what’s best? which still represents our thinking about armed or unarmed guards. With all of the recent mass shootings one of our loyal readers sent us his thinking on the subject and raised other concerns. The following, which represents his opinion for your consideration, especially regarding the concern that even if a person is licensed to carry a weapon, they might be as dangerous to others as an attacker. We agree that that any armed guards should be required to regularly practice at an appropriate facility and formally qualified to use their weapons effectively.

Re: Arming Teachers

I think we can all agree that no further infringements on the 2nd Amendment would serve any useful purpose in curbing school shootings. “Gun free zones” are as fictional as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. Every mass shooting in the last 10 years took place in a “gun free zone”. Obviously (to most rational people!) no perpetrator is likely to choose a venue where somebody might shoot back! But, as for “teachers with guns”, simply HAVING a gun doesn’t afford any protection at all and, on the contrary, in unskilled hands would likely cause injury to any number of innocent bystanders. Unless they are highly skilled and practiced, armed civilians are simply a menace to society.

When I became responsible for security at my shul, I discovered that a dozen men were carrying (it’s Texas, after all). I interviewed them to determine their level of competence and learned that most hadn’t fired their gun in years, couldn’t specify its make or model, and probably could not have picked it from a police lineup. Imagine the mayhem that would result in a crowded room if a dozen unskilled shooters decided to shoot at a perpetrator. Could they hit their target at all, let alone with the adrenaline pumping? Would they be aware of what’s BEHIND their target, or how many walls their rounds would penetrate – both within and outside the building?

Defensive shooting in a public space requires extensive mental and practical preparation – study, practice, previewing and situational awareness, not to mention an understanding of local and state laws. I promptly posted a “guns prohibited” sign on the front door (called an “Ordinance 30.06” sign in Texas) and then tried to find a few IDF or US veterans who could pass the US Marshal Service Course of Fire – a basic shooting skills test used at another Orthodox synagogue in town. Unfortunately, after more than a year, I’m still the only person who has passed it – and it’s astonishingly basic. In desperation, I requested that one IDF Infantry vet and one US Paratrooper vet, both combat-seasoned – although some years ago – carry in the congregation on Shabbos.

For public schools, a more practical approach would perhaps be to limit access to the building, deploy metal detectors, silent [panic button] alarms and skilled defensive shooters at school entrances and exits; and very importantly, to indemnify them and their institutions against corollary death or injury.

Speaking of which, schools and religious institutions need to be covered by a publicly funded insurance program in the event of a terror threat or defensive shooting. I’ve discussed this issue with both Cornerstone’s (Rev. Hagee’s) security people and those at the other Orthodox synagogue in town. We all examined our insurance policies and found that none of us currently have or are able to obtain liability insurance that protects anyone other than the insurance company – a major risk to all of us. [Editor’s note: we recommend that you discuss this issue with your insurance broker.]

Re: silent alarms: I have received halachic permission (perkuach ha nefesh – to preserve a life) to issue small pager buttons – mostly to women who tend to children in the foyer and hallways – that sound a soft chime in my talit bag in the event of a perceived threat or emergency. [Editor’s note: JCRC-NY does not make halachic determinations. Please consult your own rabbi for guidance.] No simple solutions here!

Posted in Active shooter

Not Again! Lessons learned from the Florida school shooting

The horror is almost too much to fathom. Thousands of parents sent their kids off to school in the morning and learned by phone, text, tweet or post that their child was, or may have been, the victim of another mass shooting. We mourn the loss of 17 souls cut off in their youth, we pray for the full recovery of the injured and our hearts and prayers go out to the survivors and their families. This is a time for all Americans to come together as one family.

The most effective emergency response plans are those that are constantly reviewed, critiqued and improved (See more about evolving plans here). JCRC-NY has a dedicated webpage: www.jcrcny.org/activeshooter with many resources to help organizations plan active shooter responses.

While there are still many details left to be learned from this episode, those of us who are responsible for the safety and security of those in our institutions and organizations have to ask ourselves what can we learn to improve our plans and our preparedness. Here are some thoughts to consider as you review your active shooter plans or make new ones:

From 2017 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Resource Guide: Crime and Victimization Fact Sheets (click on the image to view) based on J. Pete Blair and Katherine W. Schweit, A Study of Active Shooter Incidents, 2000-2013, (Texas State University, FBI, 2014),  and B Katherine W. Schweit, Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2014 and 2015, (FBI, 2016).

  • There is no such thing as a perfect plan. According to media reports, the shooter at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a former student. As such he had a lot of information on the layout of the building, the students and staff, and the emergency procedures (he may have even participated in an active shooter drill). He also reportedly attended anti-government-extremist militia training (Click to the ADL information here). His plan was well-conceived and and he spent time and money to aquire what he needed to lethally carry it out.
  • No matter what, preparation and training helps. President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower observed, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Plans that detail every possible eventuality are often too cumbersome to execute. People must clearly know who is in charge, what they can do, and how to get the resources they need to respond to an emergency. Organizations that have plans; train staff and users; practice with drills; identify and supply resources; and critique and revise their plans on an ongoing basis are more likely to save lives when an emergency arises. Please consider that an incident, such as the one in Florida, should be viewed as an opportunity to take your existing plan off the shelf, dust it off and use this scenario to revise and upgrade your plan. Tabletops with participants ranging from the security and maintanance staffs to the CEO of the organization should sit down — with local law enforcement present — for such a review.
  • Prepare for times of heightened vulnerability. Many organizations’ plans and exercises are limited the most frequent scenarios, e.g., all of the kids in class at 9:30 AM. That’s a good first step. The Florida attack took advantage of one of the most chaotic times of the school day: dismissal. Make sure that your security posture adapts for those chaotic times (e.g., have extra staff at the front door during arrivals and dismissals so that your security staff can concentrate on security rather than helping people with their strollers). Plan and drill for the non-regular situations, e.g., arrivals and dismissals, cafeteria time, after school programs, assemblies and special events.
  • Identify potential problems on an ongoing basis. According to media reports the shooter had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons. That should be a red flag. Did anyone recognize him and try to keep him out of the building? Students noticed disturbing posts on Instagram. Did they feel comfortable enough to pass the information along to the appropriate parties? Other examples of problemmatic situations are people in the midst of messy custody disputes, people suspected of contemplating suicide and terminated employees. Organizations should have protocols in place that create the expectation that people noticing something should report it, even though they might think that “it could be nothing”. There should be procedures in place to evaluate the information and call in professionals, e.g., school psychologists, and/or law enforcement agencies. Finally, security should be notified and have specific orders as to how to handle a situation if a potentially problemmatic turns up.
  • Do you have what you need? Lockdowns are difficult if you haven’t identified and equipped safe spaces. Do you have a plan and the technology to communicate instantly to all of your constituencies? Do you have on staff someone who is a trained EMT or paramedic who can respond before the first responders?
  • Empower your leaders. Too many organizations view active shooters and other emergencies from the top down. We’ve seen too many plans that include, as a first step, “Go find Rabbi Plony”. There will rarely be time to consult and coordinate your response. In the event of an emergency, make sure that your staff know what their best options are (based on their training), have the resources available and are empowered to make the best choice possible under the circumstances. Hesitation could prove to be fatal. Technology, such as messaging apps, walkie-talkies, panic buttons can help the incident leaders and law enforcement develop a better response.
  • Access control is critical. Once a shooter is in the building things can go very wrong, very fast. Have protocols for regular users, staff, visitors, tradespeople and deliveries and more (see JCRC-NY’s Sample Building Access Policies & Procedures). All doors should locked until a person is identified and authorized via video/audio intercoms. Your access control systems should notify security personnel when a secondary door is opened so the door can be monitored.
  • Build a culture of security. We can’t say this enough. It may be polite to hold a locked door open for another person approaching the building, but this practice undermines your security protocols. Everyone in the building must feel responsible for the security of others. All those using your building should maintain security awareness and be willing to step forward and report if something “just doesn’t look right.”
  • If you see something, say something. Everyone should feel responsible to report suspicious activity. At JCRC-NY we regularly pick up the phone and the caller says, “I don’t know if this is anything, but …” People should not only be encouraged to report, but they should feel comfortable to do so. The investigation of the Toro brothers  began after someone at the Harlem Charter School where one of them was employed saw something and said something. Make it part of your security culture.
Posted in Active shooter