Facility Preparation and The Active Shooter Threat (Main Article)

Facility Preparation and The Active Shooter Threat (Main Article)

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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Ballistic Resistance Standards

Ballistic Resistance Standards

The following article is provided as a technical reference to assist architects and security professionals in interpreting bullet-resistance standards and/or evaluating the vulnerability of existing  barrier materials. 

The most useful reference for specifying design and construction of bullet-resistant structural walls is U.S. Department of Defense UFC 4-023-07 (Design to Resist Direct Fire Weapons Effects).[1] UFC 4-023-07 Table 5-3 provides guidance on the construction of structural barriers to resist four levels of ballistic threat. If a safe room designer uses 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition (or lesser caliber such as 5.56mm or 7.62x39mm) as the defined threat caliber, requirements would be defined by the ‘MEDIUM’ threat level category.[2]

UFC 4-023-07 also provides specifications on the minimum thickness of bullet-resistant fiberglass materials. However, a more reliable approach is to reference the performance data of specific fiberglass products as tested in accordance with industry standards.

Manufactured bullet-resistant products (e.g., doors, glazing, fiberglass panels, armor products, etc.) are normally tested and rated in accordance with several standards including UL 752, ASTM F1233-08, EN 1063, EN 1522, NIJ Standard-0101.06, and SD-STD-01.01.

In the United States, the two most common standards for specifying bullet-resistant building products are UL 752 and ASTM F1233-08. [3][4]

UL 752

UL 752 describes grades of ballistic resistance using ten levels encompassing weapon calibers ranging from 9mm handgun up to .50 caliber rifle plus an additional level for 12 gauge shotgun. The ammunition and number of shots the specimen resists (1, 3, or 5 shots) defines the Class Threat Level of the product. Under the UL 752 rating system, adequate specifications for protection against military small arms would define UL 752 Level 7 (5.56mm x 5 shots), Level 8 (7.62x51mm x 5 shots), or Level 9 (.30 caliber armor-piercing x 1 shot).

ASTM F1233-08

ASTM F1233-08 uses a scale of eleven Classes/Levels to describe the ballistic resistance of glazing systems. Under the ASTM F1233 rating system, specimens must successfully resist penetration by one or three shots from defined weapon calibers ranging from .38 cal up to .30-06 armor piercing ammunition and 12 gauge shotgun. Under the ASTM F1233 rating system­, specifications for protection against military small arms would define F1233 R1 (5.56mm x 3 shots), F1233 R3 (.308 Win./7.62x51mm x 3 shots), or F1233 R4-AP (.30-06 M2-AP x 1 shot).

NIJ Standard-0101.06

In the U.S., bullet-resistant body and vehicle armor are normally tested and classified according to NIJ Standard-0101.06.[5] The NIJ standard uses a six level type classification system to define protection levels. For classification under Types I through III, specimens must resist penetration by five shots according to the standard’s test procedure. Type IV armor products must resist a single shot by .30-06 armor-piercing ammunition. Although NIJ Standard-0101.06 is primarily designed for testing body armor, manufacturers of bullet-resistant building materials often test their products according to the NIJ standard in addition to others. If a security planner uses NIJ Standard-0101.06 for defining protection against military small arms, specifications should state a product classified as Type III (7.62mm x 5 shots) or Type IV.

SD-STD-01.01

All products rated under the U.S. Department of State standard SD-STD-01.01 have been tested against penetration by military small arms and shotguns.[6] The SD-STD-01.01 test procedure involves a minimum of nine shots by 5.56mm, 7.62x51mm, and 12 gauge buckshot in sequence against different target locations.

EN 1063

Outside North America, EN 1063 is one of the most common standards for rating bullet-resistant materials.[7] EN 1063 uses a seven-tiered scale to define ballistic protection from projectile weapons (BR classes) ranging from .22 cal. long rifle to 7.62x51mm hardcore ammunition and two additional levels to define protection against shotguns (SG class). Specimens rated under EN 1063 must resist penetration by three shots according to the standard’s test requirements. Under EN 1063, adequate specifications for protection against military small arms are BR5 (5.56mm), BR6 (7.62x51mm), or BR7 (7.62x51mm hard core).

EN 1522

Another European ballistic resistance standard is EN 1522  for windows, doors, shutters and blinds.[8] EN 1522 uses a seven level classification system to describe ballistic resistance by calibers ranging from .22 cal. long rifle to 7.62x51mm hardcore ammunition, and one additional level for 12/70 shotgun. The procedure described in EN 1522 requires that the specimen is subjected to three shots at various target points which are determined based upon the type of product under evaluation. For the purposes of specifying protection against military small arms, appropriate EN 1522 ratings include FB5 (5.56mm), FB6 (5.56mm and 7.62x51mm), and FB7 (7.62x51mm hard core).

The following table compares several common ballistic resistance standards and ratings applicable for protection against military small arms.

Ballistic Standards Chart

Other standards with potential use in specifying ballistic protection requirements in safe room design include:

    • NATO AEP-55 STANAG 4569
    • AS/NZS 2343:1997 Standard

Hold up for a moment…We mentioned 5.56mm, 7.62x51mm (NATO), .30-06 cal, and shotgun, but what about the most popular weapon used by terrorists worldwide–the Kalashnikov (7.62x39mm)?

With the exception of NATO’s STANAG 4569 and provisions for specially testing 7.62x39mm in European standards (e.g., EN 1522, etc.), none of the common standards for bullet-resistant products specifically addresses 7.62x39mm as a test caliber. It is safe to assume products successfully rated for protection against 7.62x51mm will be effective in stopping 7.62x39mm. It is well established that 7.62x51mm has better penetration capability than 7.62x39mm. Therefore, any product rated as/or greater than UL 752 Level 8, ASTM F1233 R3, NIJ Type III, EN 1063 BR6, or EN 1522 FB6 will be adequate for protection against 7.62x39mm weapons.

Many product manufacturers also claim that EN 1063 BR5 and UL 752 Level 7 are effective in resisting 7.62x39mm ball ammunition. Although there are significant differences in the ballistic properties of 5.56x45mm and 7.62x39mm ammunition, there are sources which indicate similar penetration capabilities.[9] However, I recommend requesting documented proof from manufacturers of successful 7.62x39mm testing for EN 1063 BR5 and UL 752 Level 7 products before relying on these rating levels.

[1] UFC 4-023-07, Design To Resist Direct Fire Weapons Effects. US Department of Defense, N.p.: 2008.

[2] Ibid. pp. 2-1

[3] UL 752, Standard for Bullet-Resisting Equipment. UL, N.p.: 2005.

[4] ASTM F3038-14, Standard Test Method for Timed Evaluation of Forced-Entry-Resistant Systems, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014

[5] NIJ Standard-0101.06, Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC, 2008.

[6] SD-STD-01.01, Revision G. Certification Standard. Forced Entry and Ballistic Resistance of Structural Systems. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Washington, DC, 1993.

[7] EN 1063:2000, Glass in building – Security glazing – Testing and classification of resistance against bullet attack. European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, 2000.

[8] EN 1522:1999, Windows, doors, shutters and blinds. Bullet resistance. Requirements and classification. European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, 1999.

[9] “5.56×45 versus 7.62×39 – Cartridge Comparison.” SWGGUN. SWGGUN, N.p. https://www.swggun.org/5-56-vs-7-62/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.

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Mass Homicide in Schools: The Risk in Perspective

Mass Homicide in Schools - Risk Perspective

Mass Homicide in Schools: The Risk in Perspective

When teaching security planning workshops for school leaders, I find it valuable to begin the presentation with a brief discussion to put the risk of mass homicide in perspective. I realize in most audiences there will be a few administrators who believe such an event could never happen in their school. Conversely, I also know there may be others present holding an exaggerated fear of the threat fueled by what they have seen in headlines over the past several years.

There are two factors that contribute to risk: Probability (the likelihood of occurrence of a risk event) and Criticality (the impact/severity of the risk event). Statistically, acts of mass homicide in schools are very low in frequency and rarely does probability as a sole factor justify risk reduction. For instance, the FBI documented 52 active shooter attacks in the United States between 2000 and 2017 involving educational institutions.[1] [2] [3] Considering the presence of over 92,618 K-12 schools in the US, the estimated probability of an individual school experiencing an active shooter attack over the seventeen year reporting period is 0.0004.[4]

Active Shooter Attacks and Schools Infographic

However, the low statistical probability of active shooter risk rarely matches with public perspective. For instance, in a 2018 survey by Center for the Study of Local Issues at Anne Arundel Community College, 61% of county residents polled expressed fear of a mass shooting in local schools.[5] According to the 2018 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Schools, 34% of parents reported fear for their child’s safety at school.[6] In a 2018 survey of Whatcom County public school parents, school security tied with topics of student support services and access to career and technical education opportunities as number one priorities.[7] For independent schools, security is rapidly eclipsing traditional priorities of parents (such as scholastic excellence) and perception of safety has even become an issue of business competition.

Psychologists attribute the public’s tendency to overestimate the probability of tragic events to a heuristic called availability bias.[8]  This phenomenon most commonly occurs as an inaccurate deviation in judgement in response to memorable and emotionally-impactful events.[9] In today’s society, this situation is often compounded by the extended duration and dramatic presentation of news media reporting in the aftermath of tragic school shootings.

Although the probability of mass homicide is indeed very low, the threat is real nonetheless. To punctuate this point during seminars, I end discussion about risk probability with a slide displaying Florida State University’s Strozer Library and a short description of the shooting on 20 November 2014. I use that specific event as a sober example of the reality of active shooter violence because my second oldest daughter had just departed the library twenty minutes before gunman Myron May arrived and commenced fire.

Strozer Library Shooting

Mass Homicide in Schools: Consequence as the deciding risk factor

For most schools, the probability of attack as a sole factor rarely justifies serious risk reduction. In most cases, it’s the potentially devastating consequences of an attack that warrant concern. Aside from the obvious and horrific impact of loss of life, active shooter attacks universally result in extended disruption of school operations, loss of student enrollments, and diversion of leadership attention to crisis management activities. The duration of disruption can extend months before police have released the school as a crime scene, cleanup and restoration is completed, and post-incident recovery activities have concluded.

An act of mass homicide can literally close the doors on a school forever. In cases where the horror of the event is deeply imprinted into the psyche of the public, the school may be deemed permanently inhabitable due to its presence as a reminder of the tragedy. Rather than repair and restore Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown Public Schools opted to demolish the building and build a new replacement school at an estimated cost of $50M.[10] Similarly, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act authorized $25 million to replace building 12 in Parkland, Florida.

Depending the school’s responsiveness in managing the post-incident psychological consequences, the effects of an attack can easily result in exodus of students and school employees and long-term negative impact on climate and culture. In addition to psychological wounds suffered by the school population, the trauma of mass homicide can extend far beyond the local community with measurable effects of sadness and anxiety experienced vicariously by people nationwide.[11]

When these issues are rationally and objectively viewed from the perspective of risk, it is usually the combined results of duty of care obligation (legal and moral responsibility for student safety), parental perceptions and expectations, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of an attack that warrant a balanced and diligent approach to risk control in schools.

[1] UFC 4-023-07, Design To Resist Direct Fire Weapons Effects. US Department of Defense, N.p.: 2008.

[2] Ibid. pp. 2-1

[3] UL 752, Standard for Bullet-Resisting Equipment. UL, N.p.: 2005.

[4] ASTM F3038-14, Standard Test Method for Timed Evaluation of Forced-Entry-Resistant Systems, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014

[5] NIJ Standard-0101.06, Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC, 2008.

[6] SD-STD-01.01, Revision G. Certification Standard. Forced Entry and Ballistic Resistance of Structural Systems. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Washington, DC, 1993.

[7] EN 1063:2000, Glass in building – Security glazing – Testing and classification of resistance against bullet attack. European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, 2000.

[8] EN 1522:1999, Windows, doors, shutters and blinds. Bullet resistance. Requirements and classification. European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, 1999.

[9] “5.56×45 versus 7.62×39 – Cartridge Comparison.” SWGGUN. SWGGUN, N.p. https://www.swggun.org/5-56-vs-7-62/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.

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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS consultants offer a range of services to assist schools in managing risks of active shooter violence.  Contact us for more information.

References

[1] Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of Active Shooter Incidents 2000-2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2014.

[2] Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2014 and 2015, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2016.

[3] Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 2018.

[4] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Chapter 2.

[5] County Survey Finds Support for Gun Control, Concerns About Mass Shooting at Schools. Press Release: April 5, 2018. Center for the Study of Local Issues, Anne Arundel Community College.

[6] School security: Is your child safe at school? – PDK Poll 2018. http://pdkpoll.org/results/school-security-is-your-child-safe-at-school

[7] OSPI NEWS RELEASE: Counseling, Mental Health Top Priority, Public Says. Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. August 28, 2018.

[8] Tversky, Amos; Kahneman, Daniel (1973). “Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability”. Cognitive Psychology. 5 (2): 207–232.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Delgadillo, Natalie. With Shootings on the Rise, Schools Turn to ‘Active Shooter’ Insurance. http://www.governing.com/topics/education/gov-cost-of-active-shooters-insurance.html. June 2018.

[11] Dore, B., Ort, L., Braverman, O., & Ochsner, K. N. (2015). Sadness shifts to anxiety over time and distance from the national tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Psychological Science, 26(4), 363–373.

Active Shooter Planning for City & County Managers

Active Shooter Planning for City & County Managers

In response to the May 2019 mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, CIS consultants were invited by the Florida City and County Manager’s Association (FCCMA) to present a special seminar about security planning and facility preparation for managing active shooter risk. This one-hour presentation spotlighted physical security vulnerabilities common in government buildings and solutions for reducing risk during armed attack events.

The program was conducted as part of FCCMA’s fall program themed “What keeps managers awake at night,” and was attended by county and city managers from over two dozen Florida municipalities.

The seminar explored a diverse range of topics related to active shooter planning for municipal buildings including performance-based physical security concepts, barrier specification, secure lobby design, safe refuge rooms, access control planning, egress design, and emergency communications infrastructure.

The program was presented by Craig Gundry, CIS Vice President of Special Projects and a board-certified Physical Security Professional®. As a security consultant, Mr. Gundry has assisted government organizations around the world in managing risks of workplace aggression and active shooter violence. He is also a lead instructor for the S2 Safety & Intelligence Institute and has trained over 3,500 professionals in anti-terrorism and  advanced security topics.

Contact us to discuss your concerns.

Facility Preparation & The Active Shooter, Florida City and County Manager's Association, 2019
Facility Preparation & The Active Shooter, Florida City and County Manager's Association, 2019
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School Security Training Webinar for Independent School Leaders

School Security Training Webinar for Independent School Leaders

The following series of school security training videos is produced as a webinar edition of the one-day Integrated Security Planning for School Administrators (ISPSA) seminar as presented for independent school organizations and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The ISPSA webinar series explores a full spectrum of school security training topics including risk management strategy and planning, safe school climate and culture, school threat assessment, physical security and facility design, emergency response planning, and more.

The ISPSA webinar program presents a comprehensive and holistic approach to school security and emergency readiness in alignment with the principles of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program®.

ISPSA Video 01/04 – Security Risk Management & Safe School Climate

 In this one-hour lesson, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores the dynamics of mass homicide in schools, risk management strategy, and establishing a safe school climate and culture as the first layer of defense against active shooter attacks.

Risk Management & School Security ….1:32

— Mass Homicide in Schools: The Risk in Perspective….1:32

— Characteristics of Active Shooters in Schools….6:54

— Security Risk Management Strategy….10:51

— Anatomy of a School Attack….17:12

— Adversary Applicability and Risk Management….20:43

Safe School Climate and Culture….23:10

— School Leadership and Strategic Planning….28:16

— Knowing Your Students….31:51

— Fostering a Positive School Culture….35:28

— Positive Disciplinary Practices….38:11

— Reconciling Security Measures and School Climate….40:25

—– SRO & Security Officer Impact on School Climate….43:11

— Educating Parents….53:13

ISPSA Video 02/04 – Student Threat Assessment & Management

In this 1.25-hour lesson, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores the pathway to targeted violence in schools, threat assessment principles, and approaches to managing student behavior of concern.

Psychology of Targeted Violence….0:03:10

— Types of Aggression….0:03:10

— Pathway Model of Targeted Violence and Schools….0:09:09

Threat Assessment Methodology….0:13:09

— Behavior of Concern and Threat Reporting….0:14:08

— Overview of Threat Assessment Process….0:16:50

— Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment Process….0:18:36

— CIS Threat Assessment Process….0:22:32

CSTAG Threat Assessment Process….0:24:54

— FERPA & Threat Assessment….0:31:54

— Parental Cooperation….0:33:54

Key Assessment Factors….41:20

— Warning Behaviors….0:42:17

— Risk Factors….0:58:45

— Stabilizing Factors….1:08:04

— Estimating Threat….1:09:14

Threat Management Options….1:12:41

ISPSA Video 03/04 – Physical Security and School Facility Design

In this two-hour lesson module, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores important aspects of physical security and access control in schools, life safety design, and response to imminent threat situations.

Principles of Performance-Based Physical Security….0:01:14

— Physical Protection System (PPS) Functions and Schools….0:02:39

— Physical Protection Systems and Active Shooter Attacks….0:05:08

— PPS Performance and Historical Case Examples….0:08:07

— Physical Security and Active Shooters….0:14:00

Perimeter Protection and School Grounds….0:17:14

— Campus Fencing….0:17:20

—- Cost-Benefit and Case Examples….0:22:01

—- Campus Fencing & Egress Gates….0:25:38

— Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design….0:28:10

— Obscuration….0:30:30

— Outdoor Intrusion and Attack Detection….0:32:19

—- Gunshot Detection Systems….0:32:46

School Building Façade and Entrances….0:34:59

— Façade Glazing….0:35:21

—- Protective Glazing Options….0:42:12

— Entry Control…0:49:14

—- Secure Lobby Design….0:50:41

—- Contraband and Weapons Screening….0:54:55

— Campus Access Control Systems….1:06:52

—- Lockdown Macro Events….1:09:06

—- Examples of Access Control Applications….1:11:03

—- Access Control Locking Hardware….1:16:40

Secure Classrooms….1:24:38

— Classroom Door Locks….1:29:04

— Windows & Door Vision Panels….1:34:27

Ballistic Protection….1:34:58

Emergency Exits and Egress Obstructions….1:40:50

Armed Response Force Deployment….1:44:22

— SRO & Security Officer Selection….1:46:21

— SRO & Security Officer Training….1:50:14

— SRO & Security Officer Post Assignment….1:54:20

— Armed Teachers and Staff Members?….1:54:42

—- Considerations for Armed School Staff….2:00:48

Practical Integration of Performance-Based Physical Security….2:05:35

ISPSA Video 04/04 – Emergency Response Planning and Preparation

In this 2.25-hour lesson module, architect of the CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Craig Gundry explores characteristics of effective emergency response plans, infrastructure preparations, and model procedures for responding to school emergencies.

If you found this video series informative, please pass along a referral to your colleagues by using the buttons below.

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The School Security Plan: A Holistic Approach

School Security Plan - A Holistic Approach

The School Security Plan: A Holistic Approach

Effective school security plans begin with a strategy. To most, this sounds like an obvious point. However, some of the most common problems I encounter as a consultant are the absence of cohesive strategy in the design of school security plans and over reliance on a limited set of protective measures.

Fundamentally, preparation for active shooter violence is a process of risk management and conceptually no different from any other security and safety planning activity. The ultimate aim of any risk management program is to effectively characterize the risk to an organization’s assets and implement measures to reduce risk in alignment with the organization’s risk appetite while tending matters of operational needs, culture, branding, and budget.

An effective school security plan employs a combined approach to reducing risk probability and risk criticality. In the context of security risk, probability is the result of Threat (an adversary with intent and capability to cause harm) and Vulnerability (the state of conditions that would allow the adversary to succeed in causing the risk event). Proactive security measures aim to reduce Risk Probability by either reducing Threat or reducing Vulnerability. If proactive measures are implemented effectively, they may be successful in reducing Risk Probability, but there is always an element of uncertainty. To further reduce risk, reactive/mitigative measures are employed to reduce the harmful effect of risk events (Risk Criticality).

The School Security Plan & Multi-Layered Risk Management

In protective theory, this concept of multiple layers of proactive and mitigative measures is often described as concentric rings of protection. This concept is illustrated in the following diagram. The outermost rings of the diagram (colored in blue) represent proactive measures aimed at reducing probability by reducing Threat and/or Vulnerability. However, despite our best effort to mitigate the probability of active shooter attacks, no strategy to prevent events can guarantee success with certainty. To address this reality, additional preparations should be implemented to reduce the severity of attack events. Additional mitigative and reactive countermeasures are represented by the innermost red layers in the diagram below.

Risk Management and Security Strategy for Schools

In the context of school security planning, proactive risk management starts with reducing potential threat. This is first accomplished by reducing the potential conditions that contribute to advancement on the targeted violence pathway. Reinforcement of positive school culture, creating strong bonds between staff and students, mentoring students with problems, actively intervening in bullying situations, and restorative practices are all examples of measures aimed at reducing threat. Additionally, as promoted by the US Government’s Safe School initiative in 2000-2002, having a formal system in place to identify potential threats and warning behaviors, investigate and assess threats, and manage potential threatening situations before they result in violence is another critical element of reducing threat.

Positive school culture and threat assessment may be effective in reducing the threat of students escalating toward violence, but these measures have little effect on outsider adversaries who may target the school for reasons beyond the school’s influence. The only way to effectively mitigate probability in this risk situation is to establish an effective physical protection system. Effective physical security requires that a threat is detected early and delayed from accomplishing the objective long enough for a response force to intercept. If these three elements (Detection, Delay, and Response) are deficient or out of synch, the system will fail. In virtually every school attack perpetrated by an outsider (e.g., MSDHS, Sandy Hook, West Nickel Mines, Platte River Canyon, etc.), there was a major failure in one or more of these three key functional elements. As of present, very few schools in the United States have a physical security program that truly meets the criteria for performance effectiveness.

If an attack does occur, an effective school security plan integrates additional measures to mitigate the impact of the risk event. In school security, this starts by having a response force capable of effectively intercepting a threat before they can cause mass violence. If the effective response time of local police is longer than three minutes, it is usually impractical, if not impossible, to achieve enough delay time to prevent mass tragedy. Unfortunately, average police response times (effective response times) during active shooter events often range between 7 and 10 minutes (depending on cited source). The only way to guarantee an effective and reliable response is to have a reliable alert and communications system and an on-site response capability provided by School Resource Officers or well-trained armed security officers.

In addition to communications and tactical response, plans and preparations should be emplaced to manage the situation safely, effectively, and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. This starts with an effective and well-organized school emergency response plan. Despite the importance of having a solid and integrated emergency plan, this is one area where many schools have problems. School emergency plans are often a collection of memos with little integration or effective consideration to issues such as redundancy, feasibility under high stress conditions, and the many faces of “Murphy’s law” that emerge during crisis management.

Once the foundation is laid through effective response planning, teachers and faculty need to be trained in their functions and regularly drilled in response procedures. One of our clients, Shorecrest Preparatory School, conducts lockdown drills bi-monthly to ensure that teachers and staff members are instinctive in their response. When questioned about the frequency of lockdown drills versus legally-mandated fire drills, Mike Murphy (Headmaster at Shorecrest Prep) tells people that no kids have been killed in school fires in over 50 years but one only needs to watch this week’s news to be reminded of the last time school children were killed in an act of violence.

The Guardian SafeSchool Program® as a Model for Best Practices

The CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® integrates all of these approaches to managing safety and security in schools while reinforcing school climate and culture. Our philosophy behind the design of the program is a holistic and multi-layered strategy that reduces risk by preventing acts of violence and mitigating the potential impact of events through effective preparation and response.

CIS is honored that John Jay College of Criminal Justice has peer reviewed the program and endorsed it as a model for best practices. It is our hope that states, school districts, and private schools will consider the methodology described in his article as they search for an effective and balanced solution to reducing risks of targeted violence while simultaneously fostering environments conducive to good education.

For more information about school security planning, protective strategy, and measures for reducing negative impact on school climate and culture, see the YouTube video at the bottom of the page.

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Risk Management & Workplace Violence

Risk Management and Workplace Violence

Risk Management & Workplace Violence

By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

Workplace Violence: The Risk in Perspective

By comparison to many other security risks, workplace violence incidents are low-moderate frequency events and rarely result in lethal consequences. According to US labor statistics, workplace violence is only responsible for 18% of deaths in professional office and healthcare settings—less than transportation accidents or even slips and falls.[i] Nevertheless, nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year.[ii] For reasons of liability, productivity, and duty of care, it is important that all employers implement reasonable measures to mitigate the probability and impact of workplace violence incidents.

Most incidents of workplace violence are examples of impromptu violence, spontaneous and unplanned acts of aggression often happening in the heat of the moment.[iii] These types of incidents can range from verbal threats and oral abuse all the way up the continuum of aggression to physical assault and non-premeditated murder.

Of greatest concern from a risk management perspective are acts of intended violence (also referred to as ‘targeted aggression’) which result in a planned, premeditated act.[iv] Most acts of mass homicide in workplace environments are examples of targeted violence and result from progression on a ‘pathway’ of development over time.

Mass Homicide in the Workplace

Many individuals who perpetrate mass violence align with Dr. Park Dietz’s definition of a Pseudocommando.[v] Pseudocommandos often evolve from angry, narcissistic personalities and harbor perceived injustices as a grievance for revenge. Violent fantasies become a refuge for the pseudocommando’s damaged ego and provide a sense of power and control.[vi] Without intervention, this process may continue into obsession and escalate until violent fantasy becomes a template for action. If this pathway progression continues unabated until nihilism takes place, commitment to violence is affirmed and often commenced in a planned manner or initiated by a trigger event (e.g., termination, demotion, family crisis, etc.).[vii]

By contrast to other security threats and even incidents of impromptu violence, acts of mass homicide are extremely low in frequency and rarely does probability as a sole factor justify risk reduction. In most cases, it’s the potentially devastating consequences of an attack that warrant concern. Aside from the obvious and horrific impact of loss of life, active assailant attacks universally result in extended disruption of facility operations, loss due to reduced productivity, and diversion of leadership attention to crisis management. The duration of operational disruption can span months before police release the facility as a crime scene, cleanup and remediation are completed, and post-incident recovery activities have concluded.

In cases where the horror of the event is deeply imprinted into the psyche of the public, the facility may be deemed permanently inhabitable due to its presence as a reminder of the tragedy. Rather than repair and restore Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown Public Schools opted to demolish the building and build a new replacement school at an estimated cost of $50M.[viii] Similarly, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act authorized $25 million to replace building 12 in Parkland, Florida. In the aftermath of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, the owner decided to permanently close the business as a nightclub and rebuild the site as a memorial and museum.

Depending on the organization’s responsiveness in managing the post-incident psychological consequences, the effects of an attack can easily result in an exodus of employees and long-term negative impact on workplace culture. In addition to psychological wounds suffered by victims of attacks, the trauma of mass violence can extend far beyond the local community with measurable effects of sadness and anxiety experienced vicariously by people nationwide.[ix]

When all risk factors are assessed in context, it is often the combined results of duty of care obligation (i.e., legal and moral responsibility for occupant safety), community perceptions and expectations, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of an event that warrant a balanced and diligent approach to risk control.

Risk Management Strategy and Workplace Violence

Effective risk management programs employ a multi-layered approach to controlling risk by reducing both the Probability and Criticality of events.

In the context of security risk management, risk probability is the result of Threat (an adversary with intent and capability to cause harm) and Vulnerability (the state of conditions that would allow the adversary to succeed in causing the risk event). Proactive measures aim to reduce Risk Probability by either reducing Threat or reducing Vulnerability. If proactive measures are implemented effectively, they may be successful in reducing Risk Probability, but there is always an element of uncertainty. To further reduce risk, reactive/mitigative measures should be employed to reduce the harmful effect of risk events (Risk Criticality).

In protective design theory, this concept of employing multiple layers of proactive and mitigative measures aimed at risk reduction is often described as concentric rings of protection. The following diagram illustrates this concept as it relates to workplace violence. The outermost rings of the diagram (colored in blue) represent proactive measures aimed at reducing risk probability. This is then followed by inner rings (red) representing mitigative measures aimed at decreasing the impact of events.

Workplace Violence Prevention Program

Workplace Violence Prevention (Proactive Measures)

Proactive risk management starts with reducing potential Threat. As a first step, measures should be employed where feasible to reduce the likely presence of violent perpetrators. One example is subjecting applicants to criminal record checks and carefully screening candidates for indications of previous behavioral problems. Next, measures should be employed to reduce potential conditions that contribute to the formation of violent intent or progression on the pathway of targeted violence. Measures such as reinforcement of positive workplace culture, providing access to employee assistance programs, and using management practices that reinforce employee dignity all contribute to reducing potential threat.

Other threat reduction measures aimed at reducing the likelihood of violence by nonemployees (e.g., angry customers, criminals, etc.) include training personnel in conflict de-escalation, ‘do-not-admit’ and trespass of threatening patrons, and presence of visible security measures as a deterrent to aggressive behavior.

To address the possibility of a dangerous employee already within our midst, threat assessment and management is our next line of defense. Extensive research over the past 25 years has established that most acts of targeted aggression by employees are precipitated by behaviors that if recognized and properly assessed can warn of potential violence and provide opportunity for intervention. Effective implementation of threat assessment and management as a protective strategy requires establishing a system for investigating and assessing threats, training supervisors to identify behaviors of concern, and managing potentially threatening situations before they result in violence.

If an employee of concern is terminated, procedures should be employed to ensure the safety of staff and best alleviate potential grievance. Some examples of safety measures include conducting the termination in a manner that preserves the individual’s dignity, scheduling terminations in the late afternoon, having security nearby, and avoiding early warning or breaks which provide an opportunity for retrieving a weapon. If concerns are substantial, additional measures may be justified such as severance pay or surveillance over the following weeks to monitor the ex-employee’s behavior and warn/intervene if the individual travels to the facility without an appointment.

Consequence Management and Workplace Violence

The aforementioned measures are often effective in reducing the probability of violence. But if measures employed to prevent attacks are unsuccessful or someone targets the facility in a manner that evades our proactive influence, physical security becomes the next line of defense. In the case of a convenience store, this may simply mean the installation of bullet-resistant glazing at the checkout counter. For organizations at risk of active assailant attacks, effective physical security is paramount in reducing the overall consequences of the event.

For best performance, physical security design should integrate Detection, Delay, and Response elements in a manner that mathematically reconciles the time required for an attacker to commence mass killing and the time required for detection and response by security or police.

If an event does occur, additional measures should be implemented to mitigate the impact of the risk event. This includes items such as early event detection and alert communications, emergency response plans and employee training, effective provisions for egress/escape, availability of safe refuge rooms, and the expedited response of armed security or police officers capable of effectively neutralizing an attacker before he/she can cause mass casualties.

Risk Management and Adversary Applicability

Obviously, not all risk reduction measures are equally applicable to all situations. Measures that may be necessary and justified in an office environment are often quite different from those in settings such as retail stores or hospitals. Risk management strategy should focus on relevant workplace violence risks in a manner that satisfies the organization’s risk appetite while tending matters of operational needs, culture, branding, and budget.

Below is a table describing the general relevance of measures in reducing different types of workplace violence risks using the FBI’s four-category classification system:.[x] 

    • Type I – Violent acts by criminals who have no other connection with the workplace, but enter to commit robbery or another crime.
    • Type II – Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any others for whom an organization provides services.
    • Type III – Violence against coworkers, supervisors, or managers by a present or former employee.
    • Type IV – Violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn’t work there, but has a personal relationship with an employee—an abusive spouse or domestic partner.
Workplace Violence Prevention Measures

ANSI/ASIS Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard as a Guide for Best Practices

For those seeking to develop or improve a workplace violence prevention program, the newly updated ASIS/ANSI Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard is a great place to start. The ASIS/ANSI standard (formerly ASIS/SHRM WVP.1-2011) “provides an overview of policies, processes, and protocols that organizations can adopt to help identify, assess, respond to and mitigate threatening or intimidating behavior and violence affecting the workplace.”[xi]

The measures outlined in the standard are largely universal and can be adapted to organizations of almost any size. Some of the items addressed include the role and responsibilities of stakeholders, needs assessment, elements of policy, threat assessment and management practices, critical incident planning, employee training, and more.

In early 2020, a multi-disciplinary committee of experts completed a two-year review and revision of ASIS/SHRM WVP.1-2011 including the addition of a new Active Assailant Annex. In an upcoming article, we’ll explore some of the key measures outlined in the standard and differences between the updated document and the previous edition.

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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS consultants offer a range of services to assist organizations in managing risks of workplace aggression and active shooter violence.  Contact us for more information.

References

[i] Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). Bureau of Labor Statistics. N.p. 2015. | Cited percentage of 18% is derived from analysis of 2015 workplace fatalities for NAICS categories Health care and social assistance, Professional and business services, and Professional and technical services

[ii] Workplace Violence Overview. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. US Department of Labor. N.p. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/. Accessed 25 October 2017.

[iii] Calhoun, Fredrick, and Weston, Stephen. Threat Assessment and Management Strategies: Identifying the Hunters and the Howlers. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. 2016. pp 25.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Dietz, Park D. “Mass, Serial, and Sensational Homicides.” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine.  62:49-91. 1986.

[vi] Meloy, J. Reid, and Hoffman, Jens. International Handbook of Threat Assessment. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. 2014.

[vii] Knoll, James. L. “The “Pseudocommando” Mass Murderer: Part II, The Language of Revenge.” The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 38:263–72, 2010

[viii] Delgadillo, Natalie. With Shootings on the Rise, Schools Turn to ‘Active Shooter’ Insurance. http://www.governing.com/topics/education/gov-cost-of-active-shooters-insurance.html. June 2018.

[ix] Dore, B., Ort, L., Braverman, O., & Ochsner, K. N. (2015). Sadness shifts to anxiety over time and distance from the national tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Psychological Science, 26(4), 363–373.

[X] Workplace Violence. Issues in Response. Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. N.d.

[xi] ASIS/SHRM WVP.1-2011, Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention. 2011.

The MSDHS Commission Report – A Security Expert’s Critique (1/2)

MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

On 02 January 2019, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) Public Safety Commission released its initial report detailing the February 2018 tragedy at MSD High School and system failures contributing to the event. Appendix B. of the report (“Target Hardening,” pages 345-350) describes proposed measures for improved security and emergency readiness in Florida schools.

The Commission’s new report follows a previous briefing released in November 2018 where target hardening measures under consideration were first presented to the public. In December, CIS submitted a critique to the Commission regarding proposed measures under consideration with the intention of correcting a number of inaccurate statements, important omissions, and a few dangerous recommendations. To the credit of the MSDHS Public Safety Commission, several of the problems described in our previous submission to the Commission have been remedied in the new report. 

Nevertheless, a number of our original concerns remain unaddressed. Although Critical Intervention Services applauds the State’s commitment to improved school security and the great effort of the MSDHS Public Safety Commission, it is our hope that spotlighting these outstanding issues will better aid Florida schools in adopting the Commission’s recommendations while avoiding potential problems resulting from the Commission’s oversight.

Concerns Regarding MSDHS ‘Hardening’ Recommendations

Following is a summary of outstanding concerns regarding physical security measures recommended in the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report.

As a Level I measure, page 345 states: “Campuses should have single ingress and egress points to the extent that is consistent with this level’s criteria of minimal cost.” As a Level II measure, page 347 states: “Fenced campuses with single ingress and egress points (could be a level III based on campus size and complexity).”

Although CIS recommends channeling access into secured campuses through a limited number of monitored entry points, the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report provides very concerning advice by recommending there be only a single egress point.

In this situation, students located outdoors during an attack are trapped unless they climb a fence to escape or encircle a campus perimeter to access a single egress point. By contrast, students located outdoors during an attack should have easy access to egress gates located abundantly around the campus perimeter. This is a very common oversight we encounter in our work as consultants with schools that have implemented fenced perimeters.

To address concerns about the exploitation of outdoor egress gates as points of entry, outdoor gates should feature mechanical exit bars and anti-manipulation features (e.g, screen mesh, acrylic panel, etc.). Exit bars featuring audible alarms can also be used to discourage exit during non-emergency situations and alert nearby staff if a student departs the campus. See the photo right as an example.

In contrast to the Commission’s advice, CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards recommend abundant and versatile access to secure outdoor egress gates.
Secure Egress Gate

Page 347 states: “All common use closed areas in a school must have electronically controlled doors that can be locked remotely or locally with appropriate hardware on single and double doors to resist forced entry.”

Although CIS strongly endorses the use of electronic access control systems in schools, caution should be used in the selection of hardware and system configuration to avoid creating new vulnerabilities and operational problems. Regretfully, the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report does not provide guidance about access-controlled hardware selection and system configuration.

As one example of this concern, schools should strictly avoid the use of electromagnetic locks on egress doors. Building and life safety codes universally require that egress doors equipped with electromagnetic locks ‘fail safe’ (unlocked) during fire alarms.[1]  In this situation, all fire alarm pull stations inside the school are ‘virtual master keys’ and would compromise most doors if someone activated a pull handle. In a number of previous attacks, fire alarms were manually activated by building occupants to alert others (e.g., 2013 Washington Navy Yard), activated by smoke or dust (e.g., 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 2008 Taj Majal Hotel Mumbai, etc.), or used by adversaries to deceptively herd victims outdoors for ambush (e.g., 1998 Westside Middle School, 2013 UCF, 2015 Corinthia Hotel Tripoli, etc.).  Conversely, when an alarm is not activated, electromagnetic locks require a push-to-exit switch or sensor to unlock egress doors when approached.  In tests conducted by CIS, both methods of unlocking are often unreliable when people attempt egress under high stress conditions.

CIS strongly recommends that the MSDHS Public Safety Commission provide more detailed guidance for schools to aid with proper selection of access-controlled hardware and system configuration. (NOTE: We will be posting a new article soon to address this matter comprehensively.)

As an additional recommendation about access control, report page 349 states as a Level III measure: “RFID and Near field communications (NFC) card readers should replace all door locks on campus.”

Although RFID and NFC access control systems offer great versatility and can be very useful for controlling access into school buildings, CIS strongly discourages the use of card readers and electrified locks on classrooms which may be used as safe rooms during attacks. If the access control system in the school employs card readers and an assailant recovers an access badge from a fallen staff member, all doors with programmed access will be compromised. The report’s recommendation, as written, also contradicts other statements in Appendix B. advising that door locks be installed on all classrooms that can be locked from the inside.

CIS advises that Florida schools restrict use of access-controlled locks to exterior doors, reception lobbies, and hallway doors separating interior classroom wings.

Regarding classroom doors, page 346 states: “All classroom doors should be able to be locked from inside or there must be an enforced policy that all doors remain locked at all times without exception.” Regarding events at MSDHS High School, page 45 the report states: “Individual classroom door locks could only be locked from outside the door. The teacher would have to exit their classroom and use a key to lock the door. There was no way to lock the door from within the classroom.” The related findings on page 47 state: “All of the classroom doors in Building 12 could only be locked from the exterior. Teachers inconsistently locked classroom doors and some doors were unlocked the day of the shooting. Teachers were reluctant to enter the halls to lock the doors.”

Although CIS is encouraged to see the Commission addressing concerns about standard ANSI “classroom-function” door locks, the report only addresses the matter of locking the door from the hallway-side and does not advise against locks which require a key for locking. As witnessed in a number of shooting events, doors equipped with classroom-function locks often remain unlocked due to difficulty locating or manipulating keys under stress. Some examples of incidents where this situation clearly contributed to unnecessary casualties include the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and 2007 Virginia Tech attack. In those two events alone, 26 students and faculty were killed and 24 wounded specifically because their doors could not be secured once the attack was in progress. [ii] [iii] Another recent example of an unlocked classroom due to a missing key occurred during the December 2017 shooting at Aztec High School.[iv]

The limited recommendations provided in the Commission’s report would make “classroom security function” locks (ANSI mortise F09/bored F88) permissible in Florida schools.  Classroom security function locks can be locked from inside the classroom, but still require a key for locking.

CIS strongly advises against the use of all locks classified by ANSI as “classroom function.” CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards recommend ANSI/BHMA A156 Grade 1 locks with an ANSI lock code of F04 or F82 (office function).[v] Mechanical locks rated ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 have been successfully evaluated under a variety of static force and torque tests.  Locks coded as F04 and F82 feature buttons or thumbturns to facilitate ease of locking under stress.

As a Level I measure, page 346 states: “Classroom doors should either have no windows or every door should be equipped with a device that can readily block line of sight through the window, but does not indicate occupancy…First floor outside windows should be able to be blocked from line of sight.” As a Level III measure, page 348 states: “Install ballistic resistant glass covering on classroom interior door windows… Install classroom door windows that are small enough to restrict access and located a sufficient distance from the door handle to prevent a person from reaching through to unlock the door from the interior.”

Although these measures are sound in principle, there are several concerns with the Commission’s recommendations as presented in the report. First, the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report only recommends ballistic resistant glass on door “windows” and makes little mention about the intrusion-resistance of door vision panels, classroom hallway windows, and first floor glazing. Although it would be ideal if door vision panels were protected by ballistic-resistant glazing, such recommendations are impractical in installation and very difficult to justify from a cost-benefit perspective. A more practical and critical objective (which often can be addressed without significant expense) is delaying and deterring adversaries from breaching windows to enter occupied spaces.

According to testing documented by Sandia National Laboratories, 0.25 inch tempered glass provides 3-9 seconds of delay against an intruder using a fire axe and the mean delay time for penetrating 1/8″ tempered glass with a hammer is 0.5 minutes.[vi]  However, impact testing documented by Sandia did not account for the fragility of a tempered glass specimen after first being penetrated by firearm projectile. In penetration tests Critical Intervention Services conducted of 1/4-inch tempered glass windows using several shots from a 9mm handgun to penetrate glazing prior to impact by hand, delay time was only 10 seconds.[vii] This vulnerability was exploited by Adam Lanza during his entry into Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.[viii]

Active Shooter Tempered Glass

Some practical options for upgrading existing window glazing include laminated glass, polycarbonate (for door vision panel replacement), and reinforcing existing windows with properly attached anti-shatter film. All the aforementioned options can increase the delay time performance of windows by 90 seconds or more against firearm-aided forced entry.

We strongly advise Florida schools to adopt the Guardian SafeSchool Program® standards regarding glazing and prioritize upgrade of any vulnerable tempered glass vision panels, classroom hallway windows, and first floor exterior classroom glazing prior to the Commission’s recommendations of ballistic resistant door windows.

The following is a summary of essential protective measures for classrooms suitable for refuge during imminent threat situations.

Active Shooter Safe Room Classroom Design

As a Level II measure, page 347 recommends: “Use protective bollards at campus entrances.”

Although anti-vehicle barriers are an effective measure to reduce the risk of vehicle ramming as a means of attack or entry, vehicle ramming has been historically rare inside the United States by comparison to other forced entry and attack techniques. This fact is also pointed out in the Commission’s report on page 14: “Vehicles have been used as weapons in terror attacks including one attack against students at a university in the US.  No vehicles were used in any of the K-12 school attacks.” When approached from a cost-benefit perspective, funds allocated to installing bollards would often be better applied in addressing more critical vulnerabilities (e.g., glazing, locks, etc.).

As another matter, the effectiveness of bollards largely depends on their kinetic energy tolerance in relation to the energy generated upon vehicle impact (determined by vehicle mass and approach velocity).[ix]  This issue should be carefully assessed in any situation where bollards are installed to ensure performance as expected.

If the objective of bollards is to prevent forced entry into a protected campus, requirements for utility vehicle access will also require schools to install crash-rated active barricades at vehicle gates to ensure complete protection. Specification standards relevant to active anti-vehicle barricades include ASTM F-2656-07 and/or IWA 14-1.[x]  However, the price of crash-rated anti-vehicle barricades is likely far beyond the budget of most schools.

CIS recommends that Florida schools downgrade the priority of installing bollards until all other critical security improvements are completed. The unique exception to this general advice would be the protection of playgrounds located near roads and parking lots.

Continued in Part Two

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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® consultants offer a range of services to assist schools in managing risks of active shooter violence. Contact us for more information.


References

[1] International Code Council. International Building Code, 2012. Country Club Hills, IL: International Code Council, 2011.

[ii] Sedensky, Stephen J. Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Danbury, Ct.: Office of the State’s Attorney. Judicial District of Danbury, 2013. Print.

[iii] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007. pp.13.

[iv] Matthews, Justin. “Substitute unable to lock doors during shooting.” KOAT Action News. 9 December 2017. http://www.koat.com/article/substitute-unable-to-lock-doors-during-shooting/14399571. Accessed 17 December 2017.

[v] ANSI/BHMA A156.13, Mortise Locks and Latches. Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), New York, NY, 2011.

[vi] Barrier Technology Handbook, SAND77-0777. Sandia Laboratories, 1978. pp. 16.3-39

[vii] Critical Intervention Services assisted window film manufacturer Solar Gard Saint-Gobain in 2015 in conducting a series of timed penetration tests of unprotected tempered glass windows and glazing reinforced with anti-shatter film. The author personally supervised and witnessed these tests.

[viii] Sedensky, Stephen J. Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Danbury, Ct.: Office of the State’s Attorney. Judicial District of Danbury, 2013. Print.

[ix] UFC 4-022-02, SELECTION AND APPLICATION OF VEHICLE BARRIERS. US Department of Defense, N.p.: 2010.

[x] Guide to Active Vehicle Barrier (AVB) Specification and Selection Resources. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC, 2016.

The MSDHS Commission Report – A Security Expert’s Critique (2/2)

MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report

The MSDHS Commission Report – A Security Expert’s Critique (2/2)

By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

Part One of this article surveyed concerns expressed by Critical Intervention Services regarding school ‘target hardening’ measures proposed by the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report. Part II continues with an examination of additional concerns worthy of potential consideration by the FDOE Office of Safe Schools.

Emergency Preparation Matters Weakly Addressed by the MSDHS Public Safety Commission Report

Pages 47-52 of the Commission report spotlight a number of failures in emergency response at MSD High School. One of these failures was the significant delay in public address alert. Unaware that an attack was in progress, approximately 100 students massed in the third floor hallway after a fire alarm was activated by Cruz’s gunfire on the ground level. Although most students in process of evacuating found refuge before Cruz arrived at their location, twenty students and three teachers were caught in the hallway when the onslaught began on the third floor.

The Commission report describes the absence of a district policy for active assailant situations and lack of recent training and drills as contributing factors to the delayed public address alert. On pages 84-85 (Section 3.1), the Commission proposes a number of measures to address these matters in addition to other conditions which contributed to the tragedy at MSD High School. Although CIS endorses all of the recommendations proposed in Section 3.1, there are a number of important issues addressed in general terms that would benefit from improved emphasis and specificity.

The recommendations on pages 84-85 state, “All staff should have clearly established roles and responsibilities that are outlined in a written policy and procedure manual provided to all personnel,” and, “Every district and school should have a written, unambiguous Code Red or similar active assailant response policy that is well known to all school personnel, parents, and students.” However, the Commission provides no specific recommendations for faculty training or improved guidelines for scheduling active shooter drills to remedy the vague direction of Florida Statute 1006.07(4)(a): “Drills for active shooter and hostage situations shall be conducted at least as often as other emergency drills.”

CIS recommends that Florida schools adopt the Guardian SafeSchool Program® standard for faculty training by mandating annual instruction in emergency procedures before the commencement of each school year in addition to active shooter drills. In our work with school clients, we typically present faculty training sessions as a two-hour program at the beginning of each academic year and whenever promulgating a new school Emergency Response Plan. Topics normally include an overview of the school’s emergency team structure, communications systems (including key notification and alert procedures), imminent threat response, reunification procedures, and a module on recognizing warning behaviors associated with targeted aggression.

Although the MSDHS Public Safety Commission report describes the need for campus-wide public address (PA) notification, the report offers little recommendation for the design of reliable PA system infrastructure. Many Florida schools do not have public address systems which can be used reliably under high stress conditions. Schools with analog public address systems often have base stations positioned in highly vulnerable locations such as main reception offices. Schools with analog public address systems should consider replacing these systems with modern IP‐based public address or phone systems which can facilitate emergency announcements from versatile locations throughout the school. Phone-based systems which require dialing an extension or entering a code to access the ‘all call’ function should be programmed with numbers that are easy to remember and simple to dial under stress (e.g., ‘111,’ ‘777,’ etc.). Additionally, all faculty members should be trained and fully empowered by policy to issue PA announcements when attack events are first recognized.

As another concern, many Florida schools do not presently have a mass notification system that can be reliably used to alert staff as a redundant mode of communication. Critical public address announcements should always be followed by a redundant message via digital mass notification system (MNS) for those who may not have heard the initial announcement. When important developments occur, updates can be issued to teachers as follow up messages. Circumstances warranting updates may include notification when police are clearing the building or if a unique threat emerges, such as a building fire.

Mass notification systems should be easy to use under stress and optimally feature pre‐configured messages for key alerts to minimize the time required to type and send messages. A good mass notification plan should also include facility‐wide Wi‐Fi access and employ a mass notification system with iOS and Android applications to facilitate Internet messaging in the event there are areas inside the structure with SMS signal interference.

As the FDOE Office of Safe Schools (OSS) progresses in 2019 toward developing best practices for Florida schools, CIS strongly recommends that the OSS promulgate guidelines for the development and performance of reliable emergency communications infrastructure.

To the credit of the Commission, we are glad to see the Level II recommendation: “Provide school personnel with a device that could be worn to immediately notify law enforcement of an emergency.” As we’ve discussed in other LinkedIn articles, any measure which simplifies and expedites alert to a response force (e.g., police, SRO, on-site armed security, etc.) has a noteworthy benefit in improving system performance.

Concerns Regarding Reconciling Security Needs with Negative Impact on School Climate

In 2014, the National Association of School Psychologists released a position paper expressing great concern over the implementation of high profile security measures on school climate and culture (two of the most important principles in creating a successful learning environment).[i] As support for their concern, the NASP paper cites a number of studies which outline the negative impact of high profile security measures in schools.[ii] [iii][iv]

Responsible approaches to school security design should carefully balance the risk of violence against potential negative impact on the school’s overall mission of providing good education. Beyond negative impact on the school’s educational mission, anything that suppresses positive school climate also directly conflicts with the objective of proactively reducing threat conditions.

In the context of school security, proactive risk management starts with reducing potential threat. This is first accomplished by reducing the potential conditions that contribute to advancement on the targeted violence pathway. Reinforcement of positive school climate, creating strong bonds between staff and students, mentoring students with problems, actively intervening in bullying situations, and restorative practices are all examples of measures aimed at reducing threat. All aforementioned measures reduce threat by creating an atmosphere where social marginalization is discouraged, bullying is not tolerated, and students feel trust in reporting student behaviors of concern. Considering the high frequency of leakage (communication of violent intent to a third party) in advance of attacks by students, the US Secret Service and National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime have repeatedly emphasized the importance of school climate in breaking the classroom ‘code of silence.’ [v][vi]

High profile security measures and haphazard implementation can easily frustrate this effort. As stated by K.C. Poulin, the CEO of CIS, “If you make an environment feel like a prison, don’t be surprised when the community members feel and act like inmates.”

To address these concerns, school security programs should be specifically engineered to create “invisible” layers of prevention and preparedness that are largely unnoticed by students. This low-profile approach should be consistent in all aspects of the program, from procedural design to physical security measures.

Regretfully, there are aspects of the MSDHS Pubic Safety Commission’s recommendations and the provisions of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act which overlook the importance of potential impact on school climate.

As a Level III recommendation, page 349 states: “Metal detectors and x-ray machines at campus entrances.”

Although metal detectors are commonly used in urban school districts historically plagued by youth gun crime, this measure is often counter-productive to security (proactive threat reduction via positive school climate) and operationally burdensome. First, studies of the use of metal detectors in schools have demonstrated inconclusive results in reducing violent behavior among students.[vii][viii]

In regard to school climate, the use of metal detectors boldly communicates distrust in the student population and potentially reinforces the ‘wall of psychological/social separation’ further between students and the administration. Measures that communicate distrust to the general student population directly counter our greater aim of creating an atmosphere where threat activity witnessed by students is likely to be reported.

Security and School Climate and Culture

In addition to the concern about impact on school climate, schools that opt to implement screening with metal detectors and x-ray machines should carefully assess the costs and operational requirements before committing to this measure. Throughput rate alone is a serious issue of consideration. Walkthrough metal detectors typically have a throughtput rate of 15-25 people per minute.[ix] X-ray machine operators can typically scan 10-20 objects per minute.[x] With these general throughput rates in consideration, it would take a single-lane inspection station 75-150 minutes to process a high school of 1,500 students arriving for class. Even if two x-ray stations were employed with a single metal detector, it would only improve throughput rate to 60-100 minutes. Additional considerations include space requirements for screening stations and cueing lines at campus entry points, staffing and personnel training, financial cost of equipment ($30,000+ for x-ray machines alone), maintenance, etc. Achieving any level of practical efficiency would require significant investment and operational burden or compromised effectiveness by limiting screening to a subset of students.

CIS recommends that metal detectors and x-ray screening be reserved for situations where there is a clear cost-benefit advantage (such as schools in locations where gun crime is a persistent problem).

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act’s Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program requires that candidates complete 132-hours of firearm safety and proficiency training, psychological evaluation, drug tests; and complete certified diversity training. However, there are no training requirements related to interpersonal relations skills, social network development, conflict resolution, targeted violence behavior, threat assessment methodology, or other critical school security topics such as emergency response.

Several Florida school districts (e.g., Broward, Hillsborough, etc.) have opted to employ armed security officers in some schools rather than utilize employee Guardians or School Resource Officers (SROs). However, none of these districts have implemented specific measures to recruit and train candidates with superior communication skills and proven ability to work with youth in school environments. This problem also extends to law enforcement agencies throughout the state in the selection of personnel for School Resource Officer programs. Unfortunately, few law enforcement agencies incentivize officers with exceptional combination of both tactical and interpersonal communications skills to join SRO programs. Rather, SRO programs are often culturally‐viewed within police departments as a demotion from road duty and other special units. SRO programs which emphasize the officer’s role as ‘law enforcer’ within the school also risk further social division between students and the administration.[xi]

In most schools, the most visible element of the security program will be the School Resource Officers, Guardians, or security officers assigned to the school. To counter any negative impact of their presence, officers should be specifically selected and trained to actively develop relationships and positive rapport within the school community.

School Security and School Climate and Culture
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Copyright © 2019 by Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® consultants offer a range of services to assist schools in managing risks of active shooter violence.  Contact us for more information.


References

[i] Research on School Security. The Impact of Security Measures on Students. National Association of School Psychologists. N.p. 2014.

[ii] Phaneuf, S. W. Security in schools: Its effect on students. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC. 2009.

[iii] Bracy, N. L. (2011). Student perceptions of high-security school environments. Youth & Society, 43, 365-395.

[iv] Schreck, C. J., & Miller, J. M. (2003). Sources of fear of crime at school: What is the relative contribution of disorder, individual characteristics and school security? Journal of School Violence, 2, 57-79.

[v] OToole, Mary Ellen. The School Shooter: a Threat Assessment Perspective. FBI Academy, 2000

[vi] Fein, Robert A. Threat Assessment in Schools: a Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates. United States Secret Service, 2004.

[vii] Hankin, A., Hertz, M., & Simon, T. (2011). Impacts of metal detector use in schools: Insights from 15 years of research. Journal of School Health, 81, 100-106.

[viii] Casella, R. (2006). Selling us the fortress: The promotion of techno-security equipment in schools. New York: Routledge.

[ix] Green, Mary. The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools. A Guide for Schools and Law Enforcement Agencies. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Washington, DC. 1999. pp. 70.

[x] Ibid. pp. 95.

[xi] Nemeth, Charles. J. Peer Review Report of CIS Guardian SafeSchool Program® Officer Model. John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Center for Private Security and Safety. New York, NY. 2014.

Assault weapons bans, armed teachers, and other school security “magic solutions”

Florida School Security Problems
By Craig S. Gundry, PSP, cATO, CHS-III

Like the film Ground Hog Day, every time an act of mass violence captures the public’s attention we witness Democrats pitted against Republicans in attempts to sell the school security “magic solutions.” This time, the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School reignited furor over assault weapons laws on a scale not seen since Sandy Hook in 2012. Countering this approach, President Trump is promoting arming teachers in the classroom. Unfortunately, both ideas promise little other than political gridlock and distraction from more practical school security matters.

As a security consultant, most of my career has been focused on protecting organizations against targeted violence (e.g., school attacks, workplace violence, etc.). When designing protective strategies, I always adopt an approach that weighs the practicality and cost of countermeasures against their anticipated benefit.

Let me first address the assault weapons issue. Speaking from the perspective of risk management, we’re deluding ourselves if we believe a new assault weapons ban is going to achieve the type of risk reduction as promoted by advocates. According to our analysis of 401 incidents of actual and attempted school attacks, only 4% of incidents involved firearms classified as assault weapons.[i] Although there’s no doubt assault weapons are efficient at killing, handguns are far more common and have been equally deadly in previous events. Let’s not forget, the deadliest school shooting to date was the 2007 Virginia Tech attack perpetrated with a handgun.[ii] Whether we like it or not, the American gun genie has been out of the bottle since the birth of our nation. With millions of assault weapons already in private possession, no new prohibition is going to prevent accessibility without sweeping the nation door-by-door.

Likewise, belief that waiting periods will have an impactful benefit on school safety is also flawed. Almost all acts of mass homicide in schools are examples of targeted violence precipitated by months or even years of ideation, planning, and preparation. There is a considerable body of research on this matter. Contrary to common belief, most mass killers acquire their weapons well in advance of attacks as part of the preparation process.

Similarly, President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers is equally futile. Purdue University’s 2014 Mitigating Active Shooter Impact study analyzed this option as part its assessment of alternative response models for school shootings. Contrary to the claims of gun advocates at the time of the report’s publication, the Purdue team’s results demonstrated little benefit from the presence of armed teachers over classic response by off-site police. [iii] Besides, encouraging teachers to carry weapons in the classroom is culturally akin to adding Sean Hannity to the MSNBC nightly lineup.

Bear in mind, my cynicism on these matters has no relation to Second Amendment rights or dismay over our President’s ideas. On a personal level, I couldn’t care less if we pass a new assault weapons law or authorize concealed carry for teachers. My concern is the distraction from overlooked issues in school security and the public’s belief in a “magic solution.”

While our President tweets and the gun control circus rages on, significant vulnerabilities in schools remain quietly ignored. One simple example is use of locks classified by ANSI as “classroom function” in most American schools. These are perhaps the worst choice of locks possible for lockdown purposes. Classroom function locks are only lockable by a key from the outer side of the door. As witnessed in a number of shooting events, doors equipped with classroom-function locks often remain unlocked due to difficulty locating or manipulating keys under stress. Some examples of incidents where this situation clearly contributed to unnecessary casualties include the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and 2007 Virginia Tech attack. [iv] [v] In those two events alone, 26 students and faculty were killed and 24 wounded specifically because their doors could not be secured.

Another unaddressed vulnerability in American schools is use of tempered glass in door vision panels and wall glazing. Tempered glass provides only seconds of delay against forced entry by a gunman.[vi] This vulnerability was exploited by Adam Lanza when entering Sandy Hook Elementary.[vii]

Of greatest concern is the absence of professional on-site responders in most K-8 schools. There is a direct correlation between the magnitude of tragedy during shooting events and the intervention time of armed responders. When teaching seminars, I address this matter using the principles of physical security mathematics. This was also spotlighted by the Purdue team. All studies, analytical and anecdotal, reveal the same conclusion—the best way to mitigate the effects of an active shooter attack is rapid intervention by armed responders reliably located on campus.

Regarding emergency preparedness, most American schools still have deficient emergency plans, minimal training for faculty and students, poor communications infrastructure, and similar problems. Many schools also employ dangerous response procedures such as vague, coded announcements during active shooter attacks (e.g., “Mr. Jones is in the building”) perfectly crafted to generate confusion and ambiguity.

On February 23rd, Governor Scott of Florida introduced a new strategy for addressing many of these more practical matters of school safety. I realize “No ANSI classroom-function locks” and “No tempered glass windows” make lousy slogans for protest signs. But truthfully, these are some of the many vulnerabilities affecting our schools that can be addressed through new best practices and funding. Governor Scott’s proposed plan seems to address these issues. But like all great plans, the devil’s always in the details.

—————

UPDATE 01/28/2019 – Click here to view our critique of new security measures proposed by Florida’s MSDHS Public Safety Commission.

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[i] Gundry, Craig S. “Integrated Security Planning for School Administrators.” John Jay College of Criminal Justice. 08 May 2015. New York, NY.

[ii] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007.

[iii] Anklam, Charles , Adam Kirby, Filipo Sharevski, and J. Eric Dietz. “Mitigating active shooter impact: Analysis for policy options based on agent/computer-based modeling.” Journal of Emergency Management 13.3 (2015): 201-16. Web. 6 Mar. 2017

[iv] Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Office Of The State’s Attorney Judicial District Of Danbury, Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney, N.p., 25 November 2013. pp.18

[v] Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech. April 16, 2007. Report of the Review Panel. Virginia Tech Review Panel. August 2007. pp.13.

[vi] Critical Intervention Services assisted window film manufacturer Solar Gard Saint-Gobain in 2015 in conducting a series of timed penetration tests of unprotected tempered glass windows and glazing reinforced with anti-shatter film. The author personally supervised and witnessed these tests. Video is available online.

[vii] Report of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury on the Shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda Street, Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Office Of The State’s Attorney Judicial District Of Danbury, Stephen J. Sedensky III, State’s Attorney, N.p., 25 November 2013. pp.18