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With the rise in active shooter incidents, organizations must plan ahead to protect their members.

Since 2000, there have been more than 275 active shooter incidents — 27 in 2018 alone. Almost all of these incidents occurred at organizations like a school, office, or place of worship.

“Each organization has to determine the right balance between being welcoming and keeping people safe,” says Guy A. Russ, assistant vice president of risk control at Church Mutual Insurance Company.

Being prepared

“We break down preparedness into threat assessment and response,” Russ says. “Threat assessment is all about understanding the environment, both physical site characteristics as well as recognizing behaviors of concern.”

A site can be altered to enhance security — cameras added, lighting adjusted, and landscaping trimmed to improve visibility. Reporting suspicious behaviors can provide pieces to a larger puzzle indicating someone is considering violence. Both increase the potential of preventing that violence.

As for the response, “That’s what ALiCE is all about,” Russ says.

ALiCE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. “Having a proactive response training such as ALiCE empowers the individual with multiple response options,” notes Brandon Rhone, assistant director of training at the ALiCE Training Institute, “to ultimately remove themselves from the dangerous location, or render that location no longer dangerous.”

Muscle memory

Drilling on the overall plan and a system like ALiCE is crucial. “Working through scenarios where people are physically performing each of the five options creates a sort of ‛muscle memory’ so that they don’t have to do a lot of thinking when something starts,” Russ advises.

Some organizations will consider using armed security, but Russ urges caution. “The organization is responsible for what that team does — putting an armed security team in place can increase liability if appropriate measures aren’t in place.”

Rhone agrees. “Firearms training should be taken,” he notes. “Know what the law in your state says about the use of deadly force.” One thing is certain: Organizations must develop an armed intruder plan and then practice that plan again and again. For more information on how to do so, you can visit Church Mutual’s Armed Intruder Preparedness page here.

Jeff Somers, [email protected]

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