In wake of an uptick in mass shooting events, many businesses and institutions have become forced to think more preemptively about how to keep themselves safe from such crises. As security loopholes continue to be exploited and safety culture continues to subsequently adapt, this notion is as inevitable as it is unfortunate; which changes the duty & standard of care for many employers. The recent tragedy at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, for instance, has ignited a new conversation on increased security for religious sanctuaries — something that, prior to the shooting, had generally not been considered to such lengths.

If you hold any type of corporate leadership role, you may find yourself grappling with how to implement up-to-date security preparations to keep your staff safe. Due to the nearly endless stream of reports on violent attacks, it is easy to feel increasingly obligated to fortify your institution, which in turn may spur you into quick action without a clear plan. However, like all security-based endeavors, there is a right way and a wrong way to do accomplish this task.

That said, here are a few key considerations to note when addressing your workplace’s active shooter security.


Educate staff & stakeholders

The obvious starting point for enhanced active shooter security, in any business or institution, is education & training. Schedule meetings with your staff members to assess their general knowledge of best practices in active shooter protocol, auditing their weaknesses and educational deficiencies within the subject. Once this information is identified, you will have a clearer image of what educational intervention may look like. In most cases, this process will boil down to securing and communicating a clear active shooter protocol, pointing out crucial behavioral risk factors exhibited in potential shooters, and scheduling drills and follow-up meetings to keep staff well-versed in what is up-to-date.

Foster appropriate culture

Office culture is a vital part of any functional, cohesive workplace, and this is especially pertinent in the creation of proper active shooter security. As a leader, you must approach this specific part of the process with care, as the culture you build may reflect how your workers operate in a time of crisis. Perhaps the biggest consideration here is to avoid fostering a culture of fear; while active shooter situations are indeed scary and should be taken seriously, the point is to build awareness, not paranoia. Otherwise, you may run the risk of breeding workplace anxiety, which may lead to unnecessary and unrelated problems detracting from the task at hand.

Supplement your efforts when needed
After your training and preparation periods have ended, it is important to not become complacent. As mentioned earlier, security protocol — especially that of office settings — is a constantly changing variable (it has to be to match the adapting tactics of terrorists and other violent attackers). That in mind, there are a variety of supplementary items and efforts you can add to your active shooter security plan. Perform regular audits of your office’s security system, provide staff with documents and online resources to keep them fresh on the points covered in training, and do your best to maintain the aforementioned culture of stability and awareness. This approach, paired with your initial efforts, should put you and your staff in the safest position possible.