The statistics are staggering. The death tolls are rising. And those who now fear environments that were once thought to be safe zones like school campuses, factories, commercial businesses and government facilities, find themselves having to add the routine of active-shooter drills into their traditional fire drill protocols.
The latest active shooter statistics released by the FBI earlier this year in their annual active-shooter report designated 27 events as active shooter incidents in 2018. The report reveals that 16 of the 27 incidents occurred in areas of commerce, seven incidents occurred in business environments, and five incidents occurred in education environments.
Deadly active-shooter events
Six of the 12 deadliest shootings in the country have taken place in the past five years
Six of the 12 deadliest shootings in the country have taken place in the past five years, including Sutherland Springs church, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the San Bernardino regional center, the Walmart in El Paso and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which have all occurred since 2015.
Although these incidents occurred in facilities with designated entry points common to churches, schools and businesses, the two most deadly active-shooter events since 2015 were the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando where 49 perished. As Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in San Antonio, Texas, said during a news conference following the August 31 mass shooting in Odessa, Texas that claimed seven lives: “We are now at almost every two weeks seeing an active shooter in this country."
Active shooter incidents
Between December 2000 and December 2018, the FBI’s distribution of active shooter incidents by location looks like this:
- Businesses Open to Pedestrian Traffic (74)
- Businesses Closed to Pedestrian Traffic (43)
- K-12 Schools (39)
- Institutions of Higher Learning (16)
- Non-Military Government Properties (28)
- Military Properties—Restricted (5)
- Healthcare Facilities (11)
- Houses of Worship (10)
- Private Properties (12)
- Malls (6)
What the majority of these venues have in common is they all have a front entrance or chokepoint for anyone entering the facilities, which is why any active-shooter plan must include a strategy to secure that entry point.
Situational awareness in perimeter and door security
Preventing people with the wrong intentions from entering the space is the goal"
According to Paul Franco, an A&E with more than 28 years of experience as a consultant and systems integrator focusing on schools, healthcare and large public and private facilities, that while active shooter incidents continue to rise, the residual effect has been an increase in situational awareness in perimeter and door security.
“Certainly, protecting people and assets is the number one goal of all our clients. There are multiple considerations in facilities like K-12 and Healthcare. Preventing people with the wrong intentions from entering the space is the goal. But a critical consideration to emphasise to your client is getting that person out of your facility and not creating a more dangerous situation by locking the person in your facility,” says Franco.
“Schools today are creating a space for vetting visitors prior to allowing access into the main facility. Using technology properly like high-security turnstiles offer great benefits in existing schools where space constraints and renovation costs can be impractical.”
What steps should they be taken when recommending the proper door security to ensure the building is safe
As a consultant/integrator, when discussions are had with a client that has a facility in a public space like a corporate building, government centre or industrial facility, what steps should they be taken when recommending the proper door security to ensure the building is safe and can protect its people and assets? For Frank Pisciotta, President and CEO of Business Protection Specialists, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina, a fundamental element of his security strategy is making appropriate recommendations that are broad-based and proactive.
Properly identifying the adversaries
“As a consultant, my recommendations must include properly identifying the adversaries who may show up at a client’s door, the likelihood of that event occurring, the consequences of that event occurring, determining if there are tripwires that can be set so an organisation can move their line of defence away from the door, educating employees to report potential threats and creating real-time actionable plans to respond to threats. A more reactionary posture might include such thing as target hardening such as ballistic resistant materials at entry access points to a facility,” Pisciotta says.
Veteran consultant David Aggleton of Aggleton & Associates of Mission Viejo, California recommends that clients compartmentalise their higher security areas for limited access by adding multiple credential controls (card + keypad + biometric), along with ‘positive’ access systems that inhibit tailgating/piggybacking such as secure turnstiles, revolving door and mantrap if your entrances and security needs meet the required space and access throughput rates.
Integrated solution of electronic access control
Defining a single point of entry in some public facilities is becoming the new standard of care according to many A&Es and security consultants, especially in a school environment. This approach allows a concerted effort when it comes to staffing, visitor monitoring and an integrated technology solution.
The bottom line remains: most buildings are vulnerable to a security breach
A proactive stance to securing a door entryway will use an integrated solution of electronic access control, turnstiles, revolving doors and mantraps that can substantially improve a facility’s security profile. The bottom line remains: most buildings are vulnerable to a security breach, so it’s not a matter of if there will be a next active shooter tragedy, it’s only a matter of where.
Enhancing access control assurance
“There is no easy answer to this question,” says Pisciotta referring to how a secured entrance can deter an active shooter. “There have been at least two high-profile incidents of adversaries shooting their way into a facility through access control barriers. So, if the threat so dictates, a ballistic resistant might be required.”
He concludes: “There is obviously no question that turnstiles, revolving doors and man traps enhance access control assurance. Electronic access control is easy to integrate with these devices and providing that credentials are secure, approval processes are in place, change management is properly managed and the appropriate auditing measures in place, access control objectives can be met.”