Recently the Federal Bureau of Investigations put out a new report on pre-attack behaviors which coincides with an early released FBI report.
These two reports are:
"A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000-2013" Published September 24, 2014
"A Study of the Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States" Published June 2018
Another report worth looking into is the US Secret Service Report on "Mass Attacks in Public Spaces" Published March 2018
First as a security professional I think its clear that we have now evolved to from an label of "Active Shooter" to "Active Assailant". This is one aspect that the government is again behind the private sector when addressing this particular threat. (by threat I mean mass casualty situations) By continuing to use Active Shooter we are leaving out those individuals and groups that wish to accomplish the same objective of conducting a mass casualty event. We have sadly seen the use of other weapons such as vehicles, knives bombs and whatever other devices that can be imagined.
Some food for thought is that open source websites such as
http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/ lists many more active shooter events then what is considered by the FBI as an active shooter event. Granted there has to be a way to quantify what is and what is not an active shooter event, however just because 3 or more are not killed yet there are multiple casualties should that not also qualify as an active shooter (active assailant) event?
There is also confusion on what is and what is not an active shooter event. Each 3-4 letter agency (FBI, DHS, DoS, USSS) defines the parameters different. For these reports the FBI considers 3 or more killed in a single event to be considered and Active Shooter event. As an example, I was in a Department of Homeland Security seminar on active shooter events and the San Bernardino event was brought up. The agent in charge actually stated;
"This event is not considered by DHS to be an active shooter situation, rather it was a case of workplace violence."
This was also the initial labeling of the event that took place at Ft Hood. The reality is the reason "why" should be inconsequential when it comes to the label. The act is what should determine the label. Can an active shooter event ALSO be workplace violence, and can an act of terrorism also be an active shooter situation yes to all.
Regarding these two FBI reports which are based on the same time period. The report "A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000-2013" states that there was 160 events during this period.
During this time period was they're other events that could fall under the title of Active Assailant?
The second report "A Study of the Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States" states they studied 63 events. This is only 39% of all the active shooter events that they reported on previously.
This report also does not indicate which events they studied. With such a large apparatus such as the FBI with virtually unlimited resources why would they not study all 160 incidents that they site in their earlier report? Given this report is using incidents more then 5 years old they had plenty of time to conduct a thorough investigation. Without being sarcastic, they are the premier law enforcement and investigating body in the United States.
While these reports are helpful, the are lacking in timeliness. Since 2013 there have been multiple events all very different yet very similar. Lessons continue to be learned on both sides of the equation. First responders are training on how to deal with situations and assailants are learning how to better their casualty counts.
The main take aways from these reports are:
If someone wants to inflict death and harm they will
Pre-incident signs existed (look up the pathway to violence)
Reporting doesn't always stop an event from occurring
Event locations can be anywhere at any time
Most victims say "I never thought this could happen to me"
What can and needs to be done?
As a society it is imperative that we change our mindset and understand that an active assailant situation can occur at any time and any place. We can no longer assume the the police or other first responders will "save the day" We need to responsible for our own self preservation. A simple start would be taking a Bleeding Control class. These are generally free and local classes can be found at bleedingcontrol.org
As leaders within an organization we need to focus on simple and yet effective training, policies and procedures that can be easily implemented and followed. I was recently at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference in Chicago and I was surprised and disheartened on the lack of current policies and procedures within organizations.
What has become apparent is that Security Departments do no come up with plans that encompass all employees. If they have a plan that plan generally only focus's on how their security teams are to respond. Human Resource Departments do write policy and procedures for all employees because they think the Security Department does that. The result is employees go untrained and the organization is unprepared.
As reported by the FBI and the USSS this problem is not going away instead its getting worse and its unpredictable. We all must ask ourselves, are we prepared?
Security Concepts Group does offer specific workplace violence, active assailant prevention and preparedness training for organizations and individuals.
We also sell affordable critical medical equipment needed to save lives during a mass casualty situation. We have individual medical Life Kits, larger Life Packs and medical Life Stations that can hold multiple individual medical kits.