November 15th, 2019 (8:30am – 4:00pm) Pace University, New York City Campus One Pace Plaza (Student Center West) New York, NY 10038
Preparing all of your constituencies for a potential active shooter incident is an integral component of an organization’s incident response planning. Because active shooter incidents are unpredictable and evolve quickly, preparing for and knowing what to do in an active shooter situation can be the difference between life and death. Every second counts.
A Unique Training Opportunity
Pace University and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are hosting a one-day security workshop to enhance awareness of, and response to, an active shooter event:
Educating participants on the history of active shooter events.
Describing common behavior, conditions, and situations associated with active shooters.
Fostering communication between critical infrastructure owners and operators and local emergency response teams. This course includes discussions of interoperability, communications protocols, and best practices for planning, preparedness, and response.
Who Should Participate?
This event is open to:
Organization and corporate and facility security professionals and leaders from the private and public sectors
Please see attached flyer and invitation for more details on this workshop. We appreciate your engagement in this process; your participation will enhance and contribute significantly to building your organization’s incident response plans. Should you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.
New resource guide. Take a look at DHS’ new resource guide, Security of Soft Targets and Crowded Places. It’s essentially a one-stop table of contents for DHS’s free materials, including links for help on identifying suspicious activity, access control and screening, active assailants (they’re not just shooters anymore) and bomb threats. Follow the supplied links for an introduction to facility security that can serve as a good first step for houses of worship, schools and other soft targets. Resources include fact sheets, guidance, and online training and education courses.
While many questions remain in the case of a parcel bomb sent to a Mexican senator, the largest is why the mail of such a high-level official was not screened.
While politicians and large corporations clearly must take significant measures to screen their mail, even ordinary people (and Jewish organizations) should open their mail cautiously.
Simple steps can help everyone from the largest entities to the average citizen.
Note that Cesar Sayoc, 57, admitted in court to having mailed 16 explosive devices to a variety of officials and to CNN’s offices in October 2018. He allegedly said he would “eradicate the Jews” if he had the power to, along with lesbians, black people and Hispanic people.
We urge you to download the tips found on the Stratfor graphic and share it with your staff and others.
Stock up. As we know from Texas and Florida, storms bring power outages and limited mobility. Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
Halacha. The Jewish holiday season continues, so think about how severe weather can affect synagogue services and religious observances. Remember, wind conditions in the metropolitan areas in 2015 led emergency planners to advise those with Sukkahs (Sukkot) to dismantle or secure them (See our post Sukkahs in the Wind and an excellent teshuvah on severe weather considerations here).
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:
terrorists’ rarely provide operational insight into their planning, and
the fact that nearly all hoaxes in the United States are conducted by criminal actors or those instigating a nuisance prank.
Due to the common occurrence of bomb threats across the country over the last few years, the experts judge malicious terrorism hoaxes such as bogus emails and phoned-in threats, including robo-calls, will almost certainly continue, diverting resources as they create disturbances and send false alarms. However, don’t become blasé. Someone might take advantage of the hoaxes to accomplish a real attack.
What should we be doing? Consider these incidents to be a teaching moment. How would your organization handle such threats.
Train your phone answerers. Everyone answering the phone (including those who might answer) should be taught how to handle a phone threat with this checklist. Have copies of the bomb threat checklist posted nearby.
You have to communicate.
First things first. Call 911. Bring in the cavalry…ASAP. Whether you think the incident is real or a hoax, contact the experts and defer to them. Have a system (with primary and backup callers) that ensures that someone calls 911 immediately. Remember, don’t use a cell phone or walkie-talkie in the area of a suspicious package … you might set it off. Get to your landline.
Get the word out. Even if your people know what to do (i.e., you’ve conducted bomb scare drills) you have to let them know that they have to do it. Does your building have a public address system? Do you have cell phone numbers for all of your staff so that you can text them with updates? Can you modify your fire alarm system so that it sounds a distinctive signal for a bomb scare?
Let your constituencies know what’s happening. Bomb scares create angst and the possibility of physical danger, but there is the potential for risk to your reputation. No one wants a parent to learn about an incident from the media. Have pre-written messages ready for distribution directly to your constituencies (e.g., by text) stressing the steps you’ve taken and that everyone is safe. Have a point of assembly where worried parents can go for additional information from your best staffers. Work with the police to direct people to the appropriate areas. Do not post specifics on social media.Click here for resources on crisis communication.
Decisions, decisions. Have someone in charge (and a backup). OK, you receive a threat, now what? Certainly, dial 911, but should you evacuate or not (might someone use a bomb threat in order to trigger an evacuation setting up an active shooter or vehicle ramming?)? In reality there is no perfect answer to this question. Someone has to give the order and there will be no time to waste.
Know where to go. If you decide to evacuate out of an abundance of caution you probably don’t want to stand in the street, especially if the weather is bad. Do you have an agreement with a neighboring institution that allows you to bring people into their facility. By doing so you can keep your people warm and dry and out of harms way.
Keep unused parts of your building locked. It’s good practice to have your staff check your facilities daily, looking for something that “Just Doesn’t Look Right”. As they move through the rooms they should lock the doors. Closets and other storage areas should be kept locked. If you develop such procedures and do receive a bomb threat, the bomb sweep of your building can be accomplished faster.
Consult your leadership about security plans. There will always be Monday morning quarterbacks, but a review of your plans at the Board level should empower those making difficult decisions under duress. As they say, “once is not enough.” Revisit security planning and procedures on a regular basis.
How can we know if the threat is real? The intelligence firm, Stratfor, recently published an article: How to distinguish a bomb threat from a bomb warning. The experts suggest some other possible indicators of a hoax:
Most genuine bombers wouldn’t specify the exact timing and target of an attack (since providing that information would jeopardize the success of an event);
Most genuine bombers wouldn’t use threats with complex scenarios involving chemical weapons or other advanced capabilities, or cite geographically dispersed targets; and
Most genuine bombers wouldn’t use threats involving large numbers of operatives.
Remember, there are no guarantees in security. You will have to weigh the options and make the best decisions possible. If you’ve thought about the options and have made decisions ahead of time, the odds of making the right decision increase dramatically.
Mayor de Blasio today issued a hazardous travel advisory for Saturday, January 23, 2016 through Sunday, January 24, 2016. Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties have issued similar advisories. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Blizzard Watch for New York City from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon. This system is forecast to bring heavy snow along with strong and potentially damaging winds, and will create slick and hazardous travel conditions. Stay tuned for the latest updates via Notify NYC, NYC Severe Weather.
What’s in store? For most of the region, the current NWS forecast is for heavy snow (8 to 12 inches forecast) and potentially damaging northeast winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph in much of the region. There is also likely to be coastal flooding over multiple high tide cycles.
How should I prepare? Travel during the storm may be extremely dangerous due to heavy snowfall, strong winds and whiteout conditions. Some roads may become impassable and strong winds may down power lines and tree limbs.
Stock up with enough food and supplies. You might not be able to shop over the weekend.
Have extra batteries on hand in the event of power outages.
Check on your neighbors, especially those who are vulnerable.
Travel Safety Tips. New Yorkers are encouraged to take the following precautions:
If you must drive a vehicle, monitor weather and traffic reports for the latest road conditions. Use mass transportation whenever possible.
Drive slowly. Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible.
Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
Keep the name and phone number of at least one local towing service in your car in case you break down or become stuck in snow.
If you get stuck on the road, stay with your car and contact a towing company.
Exercise caution and avoid slippery surfaces; some ice may not be visible.
Wear layers including a hat, gloves/mittens, and a scarf to stay protected from the cold. And keep clothes and shoes dry, if a layer becomes wet, remove it.
Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
Have heightened awareness of cars, particularly when approaching or crossing intersections.
Wear sturdy boots that provide traction to reduce slipping. Use handrails when using stairs.
Seniors should take extra care outdoors to avoid slips and falls from icy conditions.
Safe Home Heating Tips
Report any loss of heat or hot water to property managers immediately, and call 311.
If homes lack heat, get to a warm place, if possible, and wear extra layers of dry, loose-fitting clothing, hats and gloves to help stay warm.
Never use a gas stove to heat your home.
Never use a kerosene or propane space heater, charcoal or gas grill, or generator indoors or near the home.
Check on your neighbors, friends, and relatives — especially the elderly and those with disabilities and access and functional needs. People most likely to be exposed to dangerous winter weather conditions include those who lack shelter, work outdoors, and/or live in homes with malfunctioning or inadequate heat. Seniors, infants, people with chronic cardiovascular or lung conditions, people using alcohol or drugs, and people with cognitive impairments such as from dementia, serious mental illness or developmental disability, are at increased risk.
For more helpful tips for staying warm and safe, view NYC Emergency Management’s public service video announcement, or visit NYC.gov/EmergencyManagement. New Yorkers are also encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency notification system. Through Notify NYC, New Yorkers can receive phone calls, text messages, and/or emails alerts about traffic and transit disruptions and other emergencies. To sign up for Notify NYC, call 311, visit NYC.gov/notifynyc, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.
Recently, 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.
The Department of Homeland Security Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and FEMA are hosting a webinar on April 28 from 2-3 p.m. ET to prepare faith-based organizations for disaster. This webinar will provide faith-based and community organizations with critical local, tribal, state, and national resources that can help get communities better prepared for disasters and emergencies. Subject matter experts from emergency management, the faith-based and volunteer sectors, and the federal government will also answer questions about engaging the faith-based community in disaster preparedness activities. Interested participants can register for the webinar online. Closed captioning will be offered.
New York City’s dense population and geographic location make it especially vulnerable to emergencies caused by natural and man-made hazards. While it is important for you to protect yourself and your families from emergencies, it is also important to protect your property. The hazards faced by Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester residents are similar, with some exceptions (e.g., Westchester planners are concerned with an Indian Point event).
The New York City Emergency Management Department, in partnership with the New York City Department of City Planning and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, is pleased to announce the launch of NYC’s Risk Landscape: A Guide to Hazard Mitigation. Based on the FEMA-approved and locally adopted 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan, NYC’s Risk Landscape focuses on a targeted group of hazards that pose a risk to the city, and includes information on how the City approaches risk management in a user-friendly and accessible format. Additionally, the guide includes informative maps, infographics, and images to help New Yorkers gain a deeper understanding of specific hazards as well as best practices in risk reduction. Hazards addressed in this guide include coastal erosion, coastal storms, earthquakes, extreme heat, flooding, pandemic influenza, strong windstorms, water shortage, and winter weather.