Business Fitness: The Financial Impact of Active Shooters and Violent Attacks

Active shooter events have been on the rise over the last six years. All businesses have a responsibility for a reasonable “duty of care.”

Business Fitness: The Financial Impact of Active Shooters and Violent Attacks

Adobe Stock image by Yuriy

We are blessed to work in an industry whose primary focus and mission is to protect people’s lives. As active shooter risks and threats constantly change, we must ask ourselves an important question: Have we changed our thinking, approach and solutions to meet new challenges?

Traditional thinking in solution design works as long as threat vectors remain constant and known. But could you say that about the threat of fatal assaults in the workplace or in public environments?

According to FBI statistics, violent criminal assault events (active shooter/edged weapons) have been on the rise over the last six years. All businesses have a responsibility, being liable for maintaining a reasonable “duty of care” based on both federal and state laws.

Often, this is anchored in the concept of the “foreseeability” of an event occurring. A simplified example — admittedly, this is a complex topic — may help clarify this concept.

Mitigating Future Active Shooter Events

If an organization has experienced workplace violence, simple assault or threats of violence in the past, and it has not taken steps (e.g., policies, procedures, security solutions) to mitigate future events with a reasonable/practical approach, it could be open to litigation. The financial impact can be significant if you end up in court.

However, the not-so-obvious financial impact can be even more dramatic, including disruption to the business or brand, as well as customer attrition. Just consider the immediate result of a violent event at your customers’ business or your own.

Foremost is the need to mitigate casualties and loss of life. A detailed crisis event plan is crucial for this life-saving goal. This should not be a “bookshelf” plan, but, rather, one that is strongly supported by senior management, communicated, practiced and updated in real time.

Following a violent event, the following is what will likely happen:

  • After the shooter is neutralized by law enforcement or the shooter’s own hand, all those who are uninjured must immediately vacate the premises, leaving all personal items (e.g., car keys, purses) behind.
  • The business or venue will be designated as a crime scene.
  • The business will cease to operate normally until the crime scene is fully processed, which could be days.

What is the cost of employees’ time off and three days of lost revenue from stalled business operations? What about the cost to the company’s brand reputation? Will customers find other suppliers? Will it be more difficult to recruit and hire new people? You get the idea.

Ask yourself the hard question: What has now changed?

Run, Hide, Fight

Based on what I read and see today, the tradition of “run, hide, fight” (as a last resort) appears to be changing a bit. More emphasis is now placed on proactive defense as a mitigation strategy for saving lives.

Providing a good defensive security solution has been an industry weak point since we quit building moats around our castles. So, what’s the reality today?

An active shooter assault, on average, lasts between six and seven minutes. How well equipped are associates, teachers and students? Are they prepared to actively defend themselves? To be blunt, this might well determine how many body bags you will need when it’s all over.

In my opinion, a stronger security defensive posture includes the following elements:

  • Simplicity over complexity. Keep things intuitive in stressful times.
  • Unmistakable awareness of the situation. Hesitation costs lives.
  • Intuitive non-lethal defense tools. Seek zero training time for effectiveness.
  • Reduce risks to students and law enforcement. A quick ID of the shooter saves lives, period.
  • Keep it tactical and practical. Fast deployment and reasonable cost.
  • Adequate coverage and placement. Don’t scrimp on the basics; expand as needed.

Maybe it’s time to rethink better solutions for a mitigation defense for your customers and you.

Click here to read a case study on how customers (school and manufacturing), as well as PSA Security Network system integrator Schmidt Security Pro, are rethinking their mitigation defense with success.

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About the Author


Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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