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4 Ways Security Teams Can Protect Their Facilities from Active Shooters

Apr 11, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

The tragedy of active shooter situations and their resulting loss of life, property damage, and financial costs prompt facilities and security professionals to ask how they can harden their facilities.

As part of Facilities Management Advisor’s FM NOW: Secure Buildings 2024 virtual event on March 20, John Iannarelli, ESQ, CSP, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent also known as “FBI John,” attended as guest speaker for the presentation “Active Shooter Awareness and Preparedness.”

During the event, which was sponsored by Brivo, Iannarelli defined active shooters as individuals who kill or attempt to kill people in a confined populated area with a firearm.

He added that the average shooting is 5 minutes or less, and although the average police response time is 8 minutes, it’s getting longer because of police staff shortages and increased crime.

With 656 people having been killed by active shooters in 2023, here are four ways facilities and security teams can protect their facilities:

1. Assess Doors and Locks

Do a security assessment of all your facility’s entrances and exits, and determine whether they have locks that can’t be accessed from the outside that keep the doors shut, Iannarelli advised. Also, make sure doors haven’t been manipulated and that you enforce your security policies.

“We’ve seen some tragedies where no ill intent was meant but people will keep doors ajar. I’ve done security assessments on buildings where I found locks taped over because of the convenience of getting in and out,” as people didn’t want to have to go all the way around the building to reenter, according to Iannarelli.

Additionally, facilities with key fobs should designate someone in management to keep an extra all-access key fob to give to responding officers during an emergency.

2. Have an Emergency Communication Plan

It’s important to use the communication system in your facility for emergencies.

As Iannarelli asked during the event, “How are you going to let others know that they may need to shelter, lock the facilities, and be aware of what’s happening in one place in case the danger moves to another?”

Facilities and security professionals should therefore consider using a public address system and other mass notification systems such as text messaging, computer alerts, and smartphone apps that allow employees to check in remotely to confirm they’re OK.

Consider how best to communicate with all facility occupants, including employees, vendors, customers, and visitors, as well.

3. Create Safe Rooms

In case occupants can’t run away from the threat, there should be designated safe rooms.

As Iannarelli suggests, “Think about your building, what do you have set up to keep people safe? Your restroom doors, can they be secured from the inside to prevent someone from coming in if you’re going to use it as a shelter-in-place? Are there closets or rooms without windows? Start identifying what are going to be the locations that you might use.”

Safe rooms should have doors and provide the ability for people inside to lock themselves in and turn off lights. Occupants should turn off their cellphones, as well, to avoid giving their location to the shooter.

4. Consider K9 Gun Detection

“We had 89 active shooting events in places like shopping malls that had signs clearly posted no guns allowed but, of course, shooters don’t necessarily pay attention to that,” Iannarelli explained.

Some public facilities, like stadiums and shopping malls, therefore have canines to sniff out ammunition and guns.

“If you’re having an event where the public is coming in you, can retain these types of service dogs to help you out,” he said.

Learn More

Iannarelli discussed several mass shootings over the years, including Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, an office holiday party in San Bernardino in 2015, the Mandalay Bay shooting in 2017, and Uvalde Elementary in 2022. He also explained how to deal with mass shootings while they’re in progress, as well as after the fact. For this and much more, watch the full webinar here.

The post 4 Ways Security Teams Can Protect Their Facilities from Active Shooters appeared first on Facilities Management Advisor.

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