LP Magazine

JUL-AUG 2014

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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ACTIVE SHOOTER C olumbine High School, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, Fort Hood, Columbia Mall. Active shooter incidents continue to occur at an alarming rate. In fact FBI studies indicate that since the Columbine incident in 1999, such incidents have steadily increased both in frequency and the number of victims involved. These tragic, senseless events remind each of us of the unpredictable nature of troubled minds and the vulnerability that comes with getting caught up in chance circumstances. We grieve for the innocent lives lost and the heartbreak of families shattered. We speculate the motives behind violent exploits and mindless vengeance. But we also internalize the threat and struggle with the realization that we, or our loved ones, could have just as easily filled the faces of the victims. An active shooter is an armed person engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, and continues to do so while having access to additional victims. In most cases there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. These situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, often with the shooter continuing to move throughout the area until stopped by law enforcement, suicide, or other intervention. Fortunately, these types of incidents don't happen very often. But the circumstances leading to the confrontation can vary significantly. Understanding how to react if confronted with an active shooter situation is critical. These decisions can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. If you are in harm's way, you will need to decide rapidly what the safest course of action is based on the scenario that is unfolding before you. However, regardless of the specific situation our goals remain the same: ■ We want to survive the confrontation, ■ We want to reduce the risk that the individual will use the weapon, and ■ We want to minimize the opportunity for anyone to get hurt. What is the potential threat for incidents in the retail environment? According to statistics gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 40 percent of all active shooter events take place in business locations, including retail stores, office buildings, and warehouses. That places retail among the most frequent locations for such attacks. The threat is real, and the concerns are legitimate. However, our concerns don't stop there. When responding to an active-shooter incident, these same FBI reports note that it typically takes law enforcement seven to ten minutes to arrive on scene. In contrast, it takes active shooters on average three to five minutes to accomplish their intended objectives. Most often, the event is over before assistance arrives. So realistically, who are the first responders? Who carries the burden of following a plan, mitigating the risk, and protecting lives? That responsibility falls on the shoulders of our loss prevention teams, our managers, and our associates. We must have a practical and actionable plan in place to help protect our associates and customers, and keep everyone as safe as possible until help can arrive. The Importance of a Plan "You need to have a plan, and practice the plan," says Jeremiah Hart, lead instructor and senior analyst at the Force Training Institute. "Planning to have a plan is not a plan. There's a need for leadership. It's important that we take the appropriate steps to ensure our people are prepared and put the plan in motion." Research clearly indicates that practice and preparation are critically important when responding to incidents that involve workplace violence, especially when dealing with situations involving a weapon. When faced with a traumatic, highly stressful situation, an untrained response can be highly unpredictable and may put us at greater risk. As the situation unfolds, our stress can mount and our anxiety can intensify. Rash or impulsive responses can lead to poor decisions and regretful outcomes. What we need is a practical and responsible plan of action that helps guide us through these traumatic situations. Practice and preparation can help us organize our thoughts. It can have a significant impact on the end result by helping us to overcome some of our initial anxiety, recall valuable information that can help us through the situation, help prepare us for the situation we are facing, and ultimately build the foundation that supports our commitment to act. Knowing how to respond is the first step in keeping everyone safe. Hart, who appeared at the Retail Industry Leaders Association's (RILA) Asset Protection Conference in April, has worked with numerous retail organizations and Fortune 500 companies to create and implement active-shooter mitigation programs. He is also a police sergeant in Los Angeles County and has testified as an expert in law enforcement training, policies, procedures, and use-of-force issues. LP Magazine recently sat down with Hart, who offered many valuable insights that can improve our programs and help save lives. Many retailers today have put plans to paper. We put great effort into taking the necessary steps to spell out what may happen, where ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENTS BY LOCATION *Statistics Provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation 2014 SCHOOL 29% OTHER 12% BUSINESS 40% OUTDOORS 19% Jeremiah Hart 50 JULY - AUGUST 2014 | LPPORTAL.COM

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