None of the five Capital Gazette employees victimized by Jarrod Ramos thought that June 28th would be their last day spent with family, friends and co-workers…but that’s the nature of Active Shooter events. In many ways, this senseless, horrendous incident was text book in its security training, planning and execution, but we still missed enough signs and symptoms to allow it to happen.
In our most recent podcast entitled, “Active Shooter, The Need for More Creative Solutions”, we discussed some of the causes and solutions associated with these tragic events; in this blog, we will take a quick look at what worked and what didn’t on that fateful day in Annapolis, Maryland.
Let’s take a brief look at what worked:
- The local police and the Capital Gazette organization had recently taken part in Active Shooter response security training, emphasizing the importance of investing in employee safety
- Wendi Winters, one of Ramos’s victims, had recently attended training at her church and utilized the run, hide, fight techniques taught in the program, her actions probably saved the lives of many others present that day
- Employees understood and utilized their training, using situational awareness and transitioning from hide to run when appropriate
- Law enforcement was able to respond very quickly, engage the shooter, and assist with evacuations
- The number of lives lost was significantly reduced due to the heroic actions of Wendi Winters
And now…what didn’t work:
- Despite an known, ongoing negative relationship between the shooter and the newspaper, the signs and symptoms, identified after the shooting, were not used to preventing the shooting
- We still heard people say “we didn’t think it could happen here,” indicating the universal power of denial
- We continue to fail to connect the dots when it comes to identifying potentially dangerous behavior
We’re not suggesting that every incident is preventable; the old saying is true, “there is no such thing as absolute security.” We can however, and must, get better at reporting behaviors, statements, veiled threats and gut feelings to those capable of investigating signs and symptoms prior to an event. The tragedy in Annapolis, Maryland was as contained as possible, given all of the circumstances, but “contained” cannot ever be allowed to be an acceptable standard when it comes to Active Shooter events.
A final word of caution…we spend a great deal of time these days talking about Active Shooter events, but they represent only one of the many challenges facing today’s global organizations. Join us for our next podcast when we will discuss the importance of understanding crisis management from a broader perspective. Organizations need to be prepared to handle the unexpected, regardless of how that’s defined in the moment.
If you fail to plan…you can plan to fail!
Michael G. McCourt is a Principal with Risk Management Advisors, Inc., a global security management firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.