Business leaders, employees and police officers gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Independence Police Department for an active shooter training.
The event, which brought together members of the Chamber of Commerce, emphasized a little known statistic: According to an FBI breakdown of shootings between 2000 and 2016, 43 percent occurred at businesses. This establishes sites of commerce as the number one target, ranking above schools (21 percent).
With this in mind, speaker and police officer Jack Taylor shared how employers can be prepared by developing a response plan with their staff.
“In a crisis situation, people go back to the training that they have,” Taylor explained. “Your employees are going to revert to what they know, be that right, wrong, or indifferent.”
Taylor first detailed workplace warning signs. The feeling that job circumstances are unfair, out of their control or personal often motivates shooters, he said.
This idea contributed to the 2017 UPS shooting in San Francisco, in which a gunman killed three co-workers after not receiving overtime pay. Similarly, the shooter in the April attack at YouTube headquarters allegedly turned violent after the company changed payment and content policies.
Beyond that, potential signals include a worker’s drop in performance level, loss of motivation, threatening comments, bullying and substance abuse. Frequent discussion of marital and other personal problems may also be an indicator, according to Taylor. If faced with these signs, employers can alert the human resources department.
The presentation also discussed how to react if a shooting unfolds.
“People often call police officers first responders. In this case, you are the first responders,” Taylor stressed. “You are the ones who are there. You can make a difference.”
It takes police an average of three to five minutes to arrive on the scene of a shooting. At Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, those four minutes proved enough time for the shooter to kill 26 people.
Taylor’s presentation focused on how to minimize casualties, centering on the concept of “run, hide, fight.” If possible, victims’ first response should be to evacuate. If this is not an option, they find a securable area and hide, making sure to lock and barricade doors.
As a last resort, victims should fight back. In a workplace setting, employees can use common office supplies like staplers, pencils and scissors as weapons. If someone manages to disarm the gunman, police urge that they should not hold on to the gun, as this could make them a suspect or endanger them when police arrive.
Taylor also detailed a list of what questions employers should ask as part of their plan. These include how to notify employees of the event, who will contact the police and where to go after evacuating or ensuring safety.
Kelly Logan, vice president of human resources at JobOne, walked away from the training with a deeper sense of urgency and commitment.
“This shows me I need to practice,” Logan stated. “I need to do more. I need to protect myself so I can keep others safe.”