Contemporary Sociological Hazards: Active Criminal Shooters, Security and Emergency Preparedness


When we consider the term Man-Made disasters, thoughts come to mind of accidental hazardous materials (HAZMAT) spills, electrical grid failures, communications outages, structural fires, civil unrest and other emergencies directly associated with adverse human influence. “Sociological Hazards” a type of man-made disaster, are wanton acts of senseless violence perpetrated by mentally unbalanced people in today’s society. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to the 20 individuals and their families that were killed or injured this weekend in the Active Shooter attack in Tucson Arizona. We further offer prayers of hope to US House Representative Gabrielle Giffords D-AZ who is fighting for her life as the primary target of this assassination attempt.

Although we all long for the “good old days” when life was simpler, people were kinder and neighborhoods safer, we must face the reality that today in the 21st Century we live in a very troubled society. This weekend’s shooting attack has some similarities to the Virginia Tech mass shooting incident that took place on April 16, 2007. Sociological Hazards must be considered when looking at your overall emergency preparedness and disaster response posture. Active Criminal Shooting situations are a stark reality for organizations, local governments, schools, businesses, corporate facilities and universities. Recent violent public shooting incidents like the Panama City Florida School Board shootings and the Discovery Channel building hostage stand-off serve to underscore that Sociological Hazards can affect anyone, anywhere and at any time. No one living in our modern society is immune from this hazard. This is evidenced by the deaths and injuries to innocent bystanders who had gathered to greet an appealing local politician in a grocery store parking lot for a “Congress on Your Corner” event near main street America. Vigilance is a critical emergency preparedness tool that must be practiced daily. Take the time to read and, more importantly share, “A Primer on Situational Awareness” republished with permission of STRATFOR.

With security for the Congress being reviewed this week by the US Capitol Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), we trust that these leading law enforcement agencies can help Congress implement security procedures that will better help protect our elected representatives. While elected representatives of the people must be safe, they must also be approachable and accessible to their constituencies. This will most certainly be like a high wire balancing act by all concerned. While protective details for all members of the House and Senate may not be practical, perhaps the use of armed security guards and/or local law enforcement at local events could deter and/or prevent a tragedy like this from happening in the future. In the worst case scenario professional security or law enforcement would be on hand to confront and immediately take action to neutralize an Active Criminal Shooter threat.

Active Shooter Resources

What can you learn from these senseless, stupid acts of violence you may ask? We believe you can learn a lot, however you must make the effort. While the most recent Tucson, AZ incident happened to a politician in the general public, ask yourself could something similar happen where you work; where your children go to school; or where you worship? If the answer is yes, do something about it! Contact your leadership, Human Resources (HR), security director or emergency preparedness coordinator and ask “what is our organization’s Active Criminal Shooter emergency procedure”? Bring the subject up in staff meetings and send memorandums to management. Deal with the reality of Sociological Hazards and help your organization plan an effective response to an Active Criminal Shooter Incident by promoting security awareness and training.



1 Len Capelli { 01.10.11 at 11:01 am }

It is sad, that such a commentary is needed in today’s society. However it is needed and I commend you for writing it, and for bringing the additional information together for the reader.

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