Facility Preparation and The Active Shooter Threat (Main Article)

By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO |

Comprehensive risk management programs employ a multi-layered approach to reducing the risk of active shooter violence. Issues such as threat recognition and assessment, reinforcement of positive workplace/school climate and culture, suspicious activity recognition and reporting, emergency planning, and employee training all contribute to reducing the risk of active shooter attacks. However, if measures employed to prevent attacks are unsuccessful or an outsider targets the facility in a manner that evades our proactive influence, physical security and infrastructure readiness are crucial factors influencing the consequences of the event.

In recent years, much has been published focused on managing risks of active shooter violence through preventive approaches and response training. Organizations such as the US Department of Homeland Security, ASIS International, and the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals offer a wealth of information to assist in developing threat assessment and management programs and training employees in active assailant response.

Unfortunately, far less attention has been devoted to equally important matters of building design and physical security. Withstanding a handful of essays and school-related publications, there is little guidance in print about designing and preparing facilities for active shooter violence. Further, most guides that have explored this subject to date have been basic and tend to overlook important vulnerability issues and technical details.

The following collection of articles aims to address this situation and serve as a comprehensive design guide and technical reference for architects, building managers, and security professionals. The essays in this series were originally prepared for a book I have been writing for the past few years. Although I will probably submit the final body of work for print when everything is complete, we have decided to publicly release what has been written thus far in hope of filling the gap in current literature.  

Protective Design Concepts

Parts 1-4 of this series provide an overview of protective strategy for reducing active shooter risk, principles of performance-based physical security, and practical issues that should be considered during the design process.

      1. Physical Security Design & The Active Shooter
      2. Design Basis Threat & The Active Shooter
      3. Facility Preparation for Active Shooter Attacks: Key Objectives
      4. Unique Planning Considerations

Universal Protective Measures

Parts 5-14 of the series address specific preparation matters applicable to most facilities including topics such as secure entry control, safe rooms, egress design, and emergency communications infrastructure.

      1. Outdoor Protective Measures
      2. Building Envelope & Entrance Design
      3. Entry Control Screening
      4. Access Control Systems
      5. Safe Rooms
      6. Egress Design
      7. Attack Detection Systems
      8. Emergency Communications Infrastructure
      9. Armed Response Officers
      10. CCTV and Control Rooms
  1. Technical References

Throughout this series, references are made to various standards for hardware specification and barrier construction. The following articles are provided as a technical reference to assist architects, engineers, and security professionals in interpreting these standards and/or evaluating the vulnerability of existing security barriers.

A. Forced Entry Standards
B. Ballistic Protection Standards
C. Protective Barrier Materials & Construction

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