My company, Riley Security, opened its doors five years ago, and in that time we have seen an increasing rise in mass shootings and active killers in the U.S. I remember watching the coverage of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. As a father, I feared that could’ve been my son, and sympathized for the parents of those 20 first-graders who would never come home. As a former Navy SEAL, and also a gay man, my anger and sadness over the Orlando nightclub shooting was quickening. Just like in the spec-ops community, the security industry has to adapt to an ever-changing threat.
There is no specific profile for an active shooter. The truth is, active killers come from all over. They have different skin colors, religions, ages, political views, and genders. Grievous events sometimes foreshadow violence, but not always. Occasionally killers discuss or brag about their attack in advance, but that doesn’t always happen. Some of these murderers go in knowing they are going to be killed or kill themselves, but again, not always.
So how do you protect yourself? Seems every time I look, somebody has some new training that they are mostly trying to sell to law enforcement, businesses, schools, or whatever. Most of them operate off of the run, hide, fight model with different variations. You run from the situation if you can, you hide if you can’t run, and you fight if you can’t hide. I’m certainly not knocking any of that training because it does save lives. Unfortunately, until disaster strikes, most establishments don’t grasp the importance of trained, vetted, and armed physical security, preferably those who give preferential hiring to experienced police and military vets.
I realize many people see a solution in carrying firearms themselves. The fact is the majority of Americans don’t carry, and let’s be honest, a large number who do would do more harm than good. I don’t want to start a debate about gun control. To be honest with you, I empathize with both sides of that debate. Until somebody much smarter than me figures out a solution, we must work with what we know. We know that background checks, careful vetting, and intensive training prepares security officers to react to active shooters or killers as individuals, which is important, because waiting on any type of backup kills people.
To conclude, the threat is real, and will continue to grow with higher numbers and greater casualties. The online-trained, minimum-wage security guard might help your grandma cross the street safely, but when shit hits the fan, you don’t want a mall cop stereotype protecting people. That might have worked a generation ago, but times have changed and so must the industry.
Image courtesy of Police Mag