Securing our Most Precious Assets
With a heavy heart, I cannot fathom the pain felt by anyone who loses the life of a family member or friend from a senseless and potentially avoidable tragedy. This will not be about gun control nor mental health; they are only contributing factors to the end result.
Reviewing U.S. school shooting statistical information, schools are relatively safe. The chances of school violence are higher than involvement in an active shooter situation. From a purely physical security standpoint, I anxiously await the After-Action-Report (AAR) to begin dissecting and understanding what could be done to reduce or eliminate this event. Events at a school are high-impact, low-frequency occurrences. The high-impact comes from the attention they draw about the event in the news and the fear, uncertainty and doubt that it draws our minds to with respect to our own families and friends.
One thing that is coming to light is the troubled “bread crumb trail” that leads from the person causing the senseless act to the actual event. For those who may not know, the information (screen clip) did not provide the metadata necessary for a search warrant via a subpoena to be served to YOUTUBE regarding the IP address and other pertinent details to execute the search warrant looking for the evidence to pursue further investigation up to and including detainment and trial.
Another crumb that was left (and I am waiting on the AAR for details) was the assailants first hand knowledge of the facility and how to move about in the building. Yes, he had been expelled from the facility but prior to may have participated in active shooter drills to know intimate details on how he would carry this out… you will hear security experts talk about layering of security. These layers should include people, policy and procedure and technology.
People – the slogan “See Something, Say Something” is now in question. There were those who saw something, said something, and a less than appropriate response was made. The School was concerned, otherwise he may still be a student there. Law Enforcement had, and responded 39 times (2011-2016), to several calls by those concerned about his behaviors. He was posting on social media raising concerns and notification to Law Enforcement Officials as well as investigations by the Florida Department of Children and Families. We are a layer. We need to continue to be an active participant in our and our community’s safety and security.
Policies and Procedures should be in support of what is seen and who it is said to. In this case, he was expelled for unknown disciplinary reasons and was also informed he couldn’t bring a backpack on campus. Are there policies in place in offering support to expelled students with procedures to ensure they are acted upon? There was enough concern for him to be on property especially with a backpack, how then was he able to enter the facility with a rifle soft case holding the rifle? This is where the information in the AAR will be critical.
Technology has to be the last step. If the first two are not in place technology cannot cover all the gaps.
As there are multiple layers, this will start at the properties perimeter. Fencing or hedging that defines the perimeter and creates choke points to ease monitoring of large areas. Access control can further assist entry onto the property but must be reinforced by people who do not circumvent the procedure(s).
Even with People, Policy and Procedure, and Technology, events like this cannot be 100% preventable. If metal detectors are put in place, gated areas where either metal detectors or bag inspections would occur create a choke point of entry in slowing things down. If the person meaning to commit such an act is set to do it, then it will occur at these checkpoints and if guns are not available, an edged weapon or assault with a vehicle or an improvised explosive device are all items that could be used in their attack.
If your school or business is wondering how hardened is your target, there are many ways to find out. ASIS International has many Board Certified Professionals who are educated on ways to layer security and mitigate threats while reducing your risk profile.
Chuck McCormick has 32+ years in the life-safety and physical security arena ranging from assessments, designing, estimating, implementing, managing projects, program development and program management (for Fortune 50, 100 and 500 companies) to providing consultative engineering and sales support. He is on the Board of Directors as Chair for ASIS International Indianapolis Chapter 045 and the Assistant Coordinator with the Sector Chief program/Indiana InfraGard Member Alliance a member of ASIS International, International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety and the NFPA.
In addition, Chuck is a Board-Certified PSP, and has also obtained his certification with the International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) as an Advanced Security Officer, CVI number with DHS, a member of InfraGard and trained with the TSA as a First Observer (FO) and a Certified Trainer with the A.L.I.C.E., program. He has held licenses to install and inspect fire alarm systems for the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia and was a state certified firefighter for the State of Kentucky.