Businesses that are proactive in security measures can help reduce incidents and possibly prevent injuries to their staff, employees, and visitors.

Mass shootings in the U.S. have increased despite  widespread closures of schools, businesses, and many public places due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 615 mass shootings in 2020 resulting in 521 deaths and 2,541 injuries. Compared to the previous year, there were 181 more incidents.

The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, job loses, unemployment, and the economic crisis is a potential for a disaster which could lead to an increase of violence at the workplace. The recent spike in gun incidences and stolen weapons across the United States is alarming. Businesses need to take heed and increase security measures to protect their employees and staff.

There is no way of predicting where the next active shooting will occur, but businesses can and must be prepared to take preventative measures to mitigate damages and protect their workplace, including employees, staff, and visitors.    

Businesses face a new reality that they must publicly disclose the potential impacts of targeted violence. Employers know that they must satisfy the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, requiring them to provide a workplace which is “… free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”  This “duty of care” is a legal obligation employers have that ensure those on their premises or within the immediate vicinity have a reasonable expectation of protection from harm.

Every shooting event, especially those causing injuries or death, most likely will be followed by a lawsuit against the business where the shooting occurred, which could be in the millions of dollars.

Through careful planning it is possible for businesses to develop a quality emergency crisis plan that meets their needs without breaking the budget. As a security expert, I work with business owners, their staff, and local emergency responders to complete a thorough risk assessment to include an all-hazards approach of all their buildings and properties.

Businesses are unique and have their own individual challenges, i.e., size, age, location, design or type of construction, and other factors. The assessment pinpoints critical areas of vulnerability and will identify the security strengths, as well as any security weaknesses.  The whole process is designed to reduce incidents and try to anticipate any emergencies that might occur at their place of business. The results of these assessments will be the initial phase to develop a course of action, a strategic plan, and a budget.

Any plan will undoubtedly include security technology, but no single security implementation will protect a business; true protection comes from many layers of security protocols and processes. Access control is a critical component to stop the unwanted visitor before something happens.

Security screening systems can help spot guns, knives, and other weapons at the entry points or other areas. Cameras in and around your business have proven to be a strong deterrent in helping to ensure policies and procedures are being followed.

There is gun detection technology that can detect weapons as soon as they are visible on camera, flagging threats before shots are fired.

It is critical that when the first shot is fired that emergency responders are notified and respond immediately to locate the shooter and neutralize the threat. A gunshot detection and localization system that is integrated into a video surveillance system is highly effective and gets information out quickly. When every second counts, the best information available must be delivered instantly and intuitively for emergency responders to respond and react under the pressure of an active shooter situation.

Additionally, if the video is transmitted over a network, it is possible to allow law enforcement personnel to view the cameras from their emergency command center and for the responding officers to view this from their vehicles.

I have always stated that prevention costs less than reaction. A serious incident of violence is actually 100 times more expensive than taking pro-active measures to prevent the incident from occurring. The psychological, social, and economic consequences of an active shooting incident may last decades, even a lifetime.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.