As America reemerges from the shadows of the Covid-19 pandemic, armed intruders are another threat organizations need to consider and plan for to keep people safe. In light of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, TX; Buffalo, NY; and Laguna Woods, CA, risk experts from Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. are recommending prevention and response measures for schools, houses of worship, and nonprofits, and answering common questions about armed intruder preparedness.
How can we bolster our security in general, and specifically against armed intruder attacks?
There are many considerations for keeping your people and property safe, but here are foundational steps you can take:
Physical spaces and systems
- Control the access points to your building, ensuring all are locked or monitored. Keep exits clear.
- Complete regular checks of locks, doors, security cameras, lighting, alarms, and gates. Fix anything that doesn’t work immediately.
- Make your security measures – including equipment and personnel – are visible and obvious.
- Equip security personnel to communicate easily with each other from anywhere on your property.
- Keep members and staff informed on your security processes and procedures.
- Implement a workplace violence prevention program and train all staff and volunteers.
- Conduct armed intruder drills regularly, just like fire drills.
- Include law enforcement officers in your training and provide them a facility map.
How can we prepare for an active shooter scenario?
Experts such as the ALICE Training Institute help organizations prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents such as an armed intruder attack. This includes the basic tenets of response during an incident, captured in the ALICE acronym below:
- Alert – Recognize the signs of danger and take all alerts seriously.
- Lockdown – If evacuation is not a safe option, barricade entry points into your room.
- Inform – Communicate information to others in the building as clearly as possible.
- Counter – As a last resort when confronted with an armed intruder, create noise, movement, and other distractions to reduce a shooter’s ability to aim accurately.
- Evacuate – Leave the area through doors, windows, or other exits.
If community members want to help with security efforts, how might they contribute?
Members of your community can help by alerting you about concerning conversations or activities. Statistics show that individuals considering carrying out an act of violence may talk to others about their plans, both online and offline.
Here are three ways you can proactively look for potential threats:
- Create a reporting system – Some people may be comfortable approaching organizational leadership with safety concerns, while others may not. Create an anonymous method for your members and the public to report information about potential threats.
- Follow the conversation about your organization on social media – Hopefully, you’ll mostly see positive interactions between your members, staff and community on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, if there are disgruntled individuals signaling dangerous intentions, this may be an early warning of violence.
- Establish an investigative group – If a designated team receives all safety-related information, they will have the ability to see the big picture and assess when there is a credible, imminent threat – and when to share your data and analysis with local law enforcement.
Church Mutual offers a free armed intruder resource kit on its website. It includes videos, checklists, FAQs, important assessment and planning guides, and more.