With Thursday’s mass shooting on a community college campus in Oregon, another American town makes national headlines for gun violence and tragedy. As the dialogue and debate continue about the need for changes in gun laws, the violence continues, with similar characteristics from one incident to the next: Columbine, Blacksburg, Tucson, Newtown, Aurora, Charleston – and now Roseburg. Regardless of whether or not gun legislation is the long-term answer, America needs more immediate solutions.
“The tragedy in Oregon highlighted the need for crisis and emergency planning,” observes William M. Besse, CHS-V, vice president of the Consulting, Investigations and International division of Andrews International, an affiliate of U.S. Security Associates. According to Besse, within 24 hours of the Oregon shooting, two different clients accepted pending proposals for projects pertaining to active shooters – one for a large data center in Texas, the other for one of America’s highest ranked public charter schools.
“We are seeing more and more clients of all kinds requesting pre-emptive safety and security solutions,” notes Besse, “from facility security assessments and workplace violence prevention programs to active shooter training and social media monitoring.”
Besse points out that because violence frequently happens in minutes and is often over before law enforcement or security officers arrive, response training can make a critical difference when unexpected violence erupts. Training on danger signs and the importance of communicating concerns may help prevent violence from happening in the first place. Every year, Besse’s group fields hundreds of requests for expert threat assessments based on signs of potential danger.
Following a mass shooting, investigators often look at the shooter’s social media activity for evidence of planning or insight into the perpetrator’s state of mind. Besse says his firm uses social media monitoring pre-emptively, rather than after-the-fact, to provide predictive, preventive intelligence on a specific individual or issue when red flags are present, or to continuously scan for general threats against an individual, event, or institution.
In the current climate, gun laws may change. Then again, they may not. Many public and private sector institutions are not waiting around to find out. Instead, they are taking responsibility for fostering awareness of behaviors of concern, encouraging preventive action, and rehearsing response scenarios. They are weaving social media monitoring, active shooter training, and workplace violence prevention programs into overall crisis prevention, security, and safety management plans. “This is action we can take right now,” says Besse, “not only to reduce the threat of violence but also to develop a generation of Americans with better survival instincts and skills.”
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