Guest Blog: Caught in the Middle

Guest Blog: Caught in the Middle

The thought of an armed intruder intending to do harm within your building or personal space is enough to cause immediate flight or freeze reactions. It is how you handle these few seconds that may save your life. Your actions and those around you should follow a structured but simple response. The Department of Homeland Security suggests: Run, Hide, Fight. Other organizations such as A.L.E.R.R.T by Texas State University suggest: Avoid, Deny, Defend. 

Between the year 2000 and 2014, there were 179 active shooter events in which greater than 50 percent occurred within the commerce industry. Greater than 20 percent of these events occurred in the education industry. The trends continue to climb in the area of active shooter incidents and we are beginning to see the early stages of terrorism attempting to disrupt our educational institutions along with other major events.

Not long ago, the City of New York and Los Angeles woke up to a threat of terror potentially impacting some of the largest school districts in the country. The Superintendents of these cities reached different decisions on whether to have school based on the immediate threat of violence. Despite the differences in approaches, both coordinated with local and federal law enforcement agencies to deliberate the level of the threat.  

Knowing that the probability of a threat on your community is increasing, where do you go for assistance?  Businesses or educational institutions are looking to protect their staff and stakeholders from harm by reaching out to local law enforcement and other self-defense organizations. These businesses, contractors or threat assessment professionals come with a wide variety of experience and knowledge. Threat assessment professionals or others offering security solutions should consider policies, guidelines or local ordinances when considering special equipment for door security or self-protection.  

I have recently had a conversation with local fire marshals related to products on the market to ensure doors are lockable in the event of an active shooter or armed intruder. These products are great tools and can ensure a classroom or office door cannot be opened in the event of a crisis, the first defense against harm. There are a number of options available by vendors, self-defense experts and law enforcement professionals. Options range from door barricades to handheld all-in-one defense systems with video and audio. While these devices may prove themselves to be effective given various circumstances, they may not be an option for various educational institutions.

It is important to evaluate these options carefully before purchasing. A local school recently purchased the door barricades with the impression they would save money by reducing costs of retro-fitting the classroom door hardware.  Unfortunately, the school was later informed that the type of door locking mechanism purchased for each of the classrooms was a violation of local fire ordinance. The barricades had to be removed from the each classroom as a result.

Schools cannot afford to make these types of mistakes related to well-intentioned purchases.  At the same time, vendors, self-defense or law enforcement professionals should ensure policies and local ordinances are reviewed prior to the purchase of these armed intruder defense systems. While this school did not review school policy and coordinate with local agencies, these barricade or self-defense systems may be suited for other businesses or educational institutions. These products do fill a niche in the industry, but do not find yourself caught-in-the-middle the next time you look for a security solution.

Posted by Mike Seger on Mar 08, 2016

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