Gun violence threats to critical infrastructure are the “new normal” – implementing mitigation strategies can immediately boost your security posture, says Brian Harrell, Shooter Detection Systems Advisor and Critical Infrastructure Security Professional.
Time and again, we are heartbroken by the news of another mass shooting.
Critical incidents such as school shootings, workplace violence incidents, domestic violence attacks and extremist threats are occurring with alarming frequency.
Throughout the first half of 2023, the US has had no reprieve from its epidemic of mass shootings.
As of mid-July, the Gun Violence Archive has counted nearly 400 mass shootings in the US this year.
Recent increases in gun-related violence stress the need for the critical infrastructure community to prepare for an active shooter incident.
All security professionals should plan now to improve their resilience against gun violence threats.
This includes building a comprehensive response and recovery plan, using technology like gunshot detection to detect gun violence in and around your facilities and then exercising your security plans to respond to an active assailant.
Seems straightforward, yet critical infrastructure security professionals struggle to find the time and resources to mitigate such a threat and then exercise their planned response.
Active shooter situations at critical infrastructure sites are unpredictable and evolve quickly.
Typically, these situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, with immediate deployment of law enforcement officers to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to innocent people.
As active shooter situations are often over within 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives, organizations must prepare their staff for an active shooter situation.
Now is the time to assess, mitigate and educate your critical infrastructure company.
Your organization’s security measures, or a lack thereof, could be scrutinized if your property experiences an active shooter incident.
This information will be reviewed. If your business neglects to create or implement proper security measures or emergency action plans, you’re at greater risk of liability.
If your company fails to initiate steps to avoid or minimize a shooting, your company may be held liable for third-party injuries and damages.
Specifically, your critical infrastructure company has a “duty to warn” or inform all necessary parties and take preventive measures when identifying any potential onsite hazards.
For instance, your company could be considered liable if the mass shooter was an employee who had repeatedly displayed violent or threatening behavior and your response was considered inappropriate.
It is vital to meet with law enforcement in advance of any incidents at critical infrastructure sites to build a rapport and communicate your plan to them.
Establish a law enforcement liaison person or team who is responsible for acting as the point of contact during emergencies.
This team should collaborate closely with police leadership, inviting them in as a partner in the process.
This would include an invitation to the property where the liaison team can provide comprehensive information about the internal emergency action plan and the layout of the facilities and campus to ensure smooth access during emergencies.
Emphasize the importance of this relationship with the liaison team.
This step cannot be overstated, as close collaboration with law enforcement authorities can significantly increase the chances of saving lives during critical situations like an active shooter event.
This is especially true when gunshot detection systems are a part of the technology stack you’re using to detect and respond to incidents.
Educate your local law enforcement on how you’re using the system and involve your security integrator or gunshot detection manufacturer into the partnership to answer any questions police might have about how the system works.
Technology can act as a force multiplier and gunshot detection serves as a valuable tool in the critical infrastructure security department’s arsenal, enabling rapid response and effective mitigation of shooting incidents.
Consider the emergency action plan as a well-organized toolbox, where each tool has its designated spot and everyone knows how to use them.
Ensuring easy accessibility and clear understanding of the plan to protect critical infrastructure is essential, since the safety and lives of your people rely on it.
In 2018, Brian was appointed by the President of the US to serve as the sixth Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the US Department of Homeland Security.
He was also the first Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
He has spent time during his career in the US Marine Corps and various private sector agencies with the goal of protecting the US from security threats.
Make sure to keep an eye out for the next installment of the Shooter detection miniseries, coming 11 September. Find our previous installment here.