Safety in the Workplace – Perpetrators of workplace shootings

Lost in the myriad of the news stories this weekend as we celebrated our independence was a spate
of unfortunate incidents of murder-suicide in the workplace. On Friday, in Belton, Missouri, a
Kansas City man shot and killed his estranged wife outside her place of employment then killed
himself a short time later. On Sunday, in Killeen, TX, a soldier killed his wife inside a Dollar
General store as customers looked on before killing himself. There were several other similar
unfortunate incidents over the weekend that occurred inside homes and apartment complexes. As
we see in the first two instances, there is little that can be done to control domestic problems from
following an employee to work. The question becomes how do we protect and notify our employees
and alert emergency services as quickly as possible? At SafeDefend Systems we think of this
everyday and have the answer.

The FBI recently released updated information (2014-2015) on active shooter incidents in the United
States. Unfortunately, instances of violence in schools and the workplace are steadily increasing.
Some of the startling information that needs to be pointed out applies specifically to the work
environment. We know from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that 86% of workplace homicides occur
in privately owned businesses. The media focuses on those stories that occur in a public entity
where a grievance against government function is expressed. The reality is that the violence starts
much closer to the people we know. From the FBI report we have learned that 95% of perpetrators
of violence in businesses closed to the public are current or former employees. The other 5% is
generally made up of those involved in a domestic relationship with an employee. These are
considered your manufacturing, technology driven, or processing businesses with no direct customer
interaction. Employees from these businesses have left behind information on a variety of reasons
for undertaking a rampage. Notions of unfair discipline, termination, ridicule from coworkers,
perceived mistreatment for promotion, failure to receive a raise, love triangles, and domestic discord
to name a few have all been cited by perpetrators. Unlike school shootings, the suspect does not
often drop clues to the plan and often act after some triggered event. There appears to be a growing
trend to resolve problems with violence that is unforeseen in our country. What steps have you
taken to thwart an intruder that knows your day to day business operations?

In response to the increase in violence, companies have undertaken steps to reinforce the workplace
against an intruder. Enhanced fencing, camera surveillance and controlled access doors are the norm
for such an approach. Most of the shootings we have seen recently already have these in place. The
Naval Shipyard shooting is a prime example of how all the money thrown toward security cannot
prevent a determined employee from committing an atrocity. What is missing in each of these
incidents is the ability to notify staff and building occupants of a threat. As we have seen in
workplace shootings such as Excel Industries or Atlantis Plastics, for example, is that the shooting
started outside and the perpetrator then entered the building to continue the rampage. Office staff
were able to start the calls to 911 but there was no ability to notify employees inside the building.
This lack of notification cost lives. We are able to go back and watch videos of employees going
about their normal routine with no idea that the threat was literally walking up behind them.
Employees deserve to feel safe and secure at work. Companies have an obligation to notify their
personnel to a threat inside the building and provide accurate information on how to seek shelter and
safety. If you don’t have a means to do this you aren’t protecting your staff.

Need for School Resource Officers Grows After School Shootings

Amid school shootings and other acts of violence, many school districts are tightening their laws and increasing the number of school resource officers (SRO) on campus. SROs offer more than just armed guards within school walls – they are trained to know the school building, students and faculty well. In an active shooter situation, SROs are not only the first to respond in many cases, but are also trained to react to those specific situations.

After an event like Sandy Hook, SRO training increased dramatically. Mo Canady, executive director of National Association of School Resource Officers, said, “After Sandy Hook occurred, our phones rang off the hook and as a matter of fact, our training doubled the next year.” She added, “What we train them to do is not sit or stand and wait for help but to address the incident immediately, find the shooter and end the situation.”

Still, many school district budgets only account for one SRO per school. In most cases, SRO programs have proven to be a good investment, especially with the increase in after school activities and programs where SROs can interact with students on a personal level. An increase in SROs would provide more opportunities for prevention of incidents in the schools, instead of only reacting after something happens.

Dan Cole Joins SafeDefend as National Account Manager

Dan Cole has joined SafeDefend as national account manager after a 30 year career with Lifetouch. Dan grew up in Eureka, Kan., a rural community. Several years ago, Dan was caught up in an intruder scenario while on assignment at a Kansas High School. He saw first-hand the terror of students who had no method of protection and realized that he wanted to work at providing a better way for our students and teachers to protect themselves in similar situations. Dan is now committed to school safety and providing the best advanced technology possible to mitigate potential risks.

dancole

Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, is excited to have Dan aboard. “Dan is a leader with an impressive background. Furthermore, Dan truly cares for the cause, and will work tirelessly to ensure that our community remains safe from emergency threats.”

Schools Tackle Unique Challenges in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery

A Homeland Security Emergency Management Advisory Council has come up with an action plan that calls for more uniformity in emergency preparedness and disaster situations, such as those involving an active shooter. The plan includes everything from severe weather preparedness to school shootings and goes one step further to also detail the management of parents that show up to school during a crisis.

Steven Skalka, school district superintendent, agreed with the plan, noting, “It’s a great opportunity for us to review our own plans and to work in conjunction with the county to achieve greater consistency.”

The plan covers a way for first responders to enter schools in disaster situations without damaging the buildings in the process and a uniform numbering of school buildings for greater clarity in school identification. Garth Kriewall, communications office supervisor, agreed, adding, “The numbering system is absolutely a security improvement. Day in and day out, though, it will also be useful to anyone who visits our schools.”

The biggest priority of the plan is making sure all district schools are on the same page as much as possible, even though each district faces different threats and unique hazards.

This type of action plan reflects a greater trend among school districts across the country in an attempt to keep our children safe. Absolutely, securing the exterior of our school buildings is an essential first step in ensuring uniform safety. In addition, Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, advocates for a consistent safety plan across not only all schools in the state, but with members of law enforcement, EMS, parents, students and school administration.

How Social Media Has Impacted Active School Shootings

Recently, a young man threatened to carry out a shooting at his school using “Burn Book”, a social media application that lets users anonymously report their thoughts. The student was quickly identified and charged with making a terrorist threat. After the arrest, the school implemented a number of procedures, including increased police presence, mandatory bag searches and metal detectors to ensure the environment was safe.

Events like this are all too common in our schools. Even though many of these scenarios go unreported due to low severity and quick resolution, these types of situations can quickly get out of hand – turning a seemingly simple event into an emergency scenario. The important takeaway from these situations is to learn how school administrators, parents and other students can learn and improve the future safety of our schools.

Students are using social media in a way that their parents and teachers cannot begin to comprehend. Many students view social media as an unlimited and anonymous platform for their expression, both good or bad. But social media can also be used as a force of good at school. Police, school administration, teachers, parents and students can use social media to identify criminals, gather evidence, and prevent crimes.

According to an article by SciTechConnect, “a 2012 LexisNexis survey found that 80 percent of police officers that used social media to investigate crimes were self-taught. The same survey found that social media evidence utilized to get search warrants stood up to challenges in 87 percent of the time.”

If adult stakeholders in education do not learn to utilize social media to their advantage, they run the risk of falling dangerously behind in understanding today’s youth. Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, endorses using a holistic approach to school safety, citing that “understanding technology is a key component to keeping our children safe.”

SafeDefend Exhibits at NSBA Annual Conference

Last week, SafeDefend exhibited the Personal Protection System to a new audience of school board members in Nashville, Tenn. at the National School Board Association (NSBA) annual conference, which also marked the organization’s 75th anniversary. The conference occurred from March 21-23, 2015 and welcomed more than 7,000 school board members, speakers, vendors and exhibitors. It featured a series of resources, such as speakers, sessions and events to help school board members enhance the learning experience in their districts.

According to the NSBA website, the goal of the conference was to bring together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of students. Attendees had the opportunity to gain ideas and strategies through more than 200 programming sessions, workshops, speakers, site visits and exhibitors with cutting-edge content and ideas to support student achievement.

Some featured speakers at the conference included Emmy winning journalist Jane Pauley, Yahoo Tech founder and New York Times columnist David Pogue, and television personality Montel Williams.

Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, was excited to exhibit his cutting edge solution to ensuring safety in the classroom. SafeDefend is the first comprehensive emergency response system which includes a teacher training program, immediate crisis notification and security response systems for classrooms. The training is directed by certified law enforcement trainers and is a non-lethal program that arms teachers with a wide range of response options for escape, trauma response and direct protection.

Many Schools Utilize Technology as Part of School Safety Plans

Liberty School District, located in Clay County, Mo. is the second-fastest growing school district in the state with 19 schools, serving 11,800 students. With school safety being a top priority, officials have collaborated with Avigilon to install an end-to-end security solution, including access control and high-definition video surveillance to improve school safety, accelerate incident response times and save on time and cost.

According to Curt Laven, technology specialist at Liberty Public Schools, “With thousands of students spread across 22 facilities, safety is a top priority at our schools district-wide.”

The security system also includes more than 300 video surveillance cameras that will help each school monitor critical locations across the district and provide clear image detail that can be used as evidence, in addition to being able to restrict employee’ access quickly and easily, if needed.

The use of technology in schools is increasing, and utilizing this technology for school safety purposes is a great idea, according to Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend. “The best approach is a comprehensive one, that combines technology, law enforcement training and effective tools.”