THREAT RESPONSE PLANS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
The following threat response strategies are focused on preventing violence in workplace settings, especially in areas open to the public and when it may be cost prohibitive for your business to retain professional security officers.
The first consideration is to identify any members of your organization that have experience as police officers. The rules of engagement are quite different for law enforcement than for military but those with tactical military training should also be identified.
Training can be acquired fairly quickly but a lack of good judgment about armed self-defense can create legal liability and a bad image for your church or business. Good judgment usually involves experience but the Lethal Force Institute and Firearms Academy of Seattle are both good places for your personnel to gain some training regardless of previous levels of experience.
The owner(s) of a business and those authorized by the owners can carry in a church or business without a CPL. Keep in mind, however, that if you are in a vehicle or away from your premises you need a CPL unless you carry openly which we are only recommending for uniformed Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs).
You do not want to deter visitors from coming onto your premises while appropriately armed. That visitor may save someone’s life. Predatory visitors will not leave their weapons at home just because they see a sign that bans weapons on your premises.
You are expected to take reasonable precautions to protect employees and invitees that enter your premises from foreseeable threats. Workplace violence has become more foreseeable and there is already some precedent for law suits proceeding against institutions like Virginia Tech.
In Washington, police officers are permitted to work as armed security when they are not on regular duty. Keep in mind that in many of the mass shootings that have occurred, uniformed police officers have been targeted first. The presence of a uniformed officer is a good thing but there needs to be one or more armed volunteers in plain clothes backing up the officer(s).
Security guards need to be licensed and properly supervised so do not take any steps indicating that any of your volunteers are security guards without undergoing the appropriate legal procedures. Nevertheless, management should discuss appropriate threat responses and to create threat response plans involving key employees. You may want to identify some armed volunteers that will be going about their normal activities but in such a way that they are prepared to implement a Threat Response Plan (TRP) if a threat materializes.
Designate areas of responsibility for various volunteers. Working in pairs makes sense. If members are identified as security personal and/or wear clothing that indicates certain members are official security personnel, you may be in violation of the law. Additionally, this creates more potential for liability if an incident occurs in which someone is injured by the commission of a negligent act or the failure to take appropriate action.
Once we undertake a special responsibility for others; e.g., by posting security guards or inducing members of the public safe to believe they are being protected, the person protected begins to rely on the perceived “promise” that he or she will be safe. Such reliance raises the potential for legal liabilities.
Take the time to study surveillance detection. Many times the mere fact that terrorists that are observing your building(s) realize that their surveillance teams are being observed will prevent an attack from developing.
You should have some key personnel at every door and in the parking lot that know what to look for. Be observant of people using cell phones to photograph your premises. Make sure that key personnel know about Domestic Violence Protection Orders that have been obtained by employees, stalking situations and provide enough information about any other threats that your key personnel know what to look for and how and to whom unusual observations should be reported.
1. Have an individual with a cell phone prepared to get out of the immediate area and call the police immediately. Only one person should talk to the police. Conflicting information is not helpful for 911 dispatchers.
2. Give the location in the building where the disturbance is occurring. Do not tell law enforcement that there are armed volunteers present if the disturbance is not one that presents the threat of deadly force. If the first responders think that you have armed civilians involved the police may not come in until SWAT teams arrive which takes a great deal of time in many instances.
3. You need an exit plan for your employees. They need to know they are to follow instructions from leaders. Visitors will follow the leaders and employees. These leaders may be women or men. They need to know a place to go outside the building where the threat is developing. In the case of a larger organization, it may be another building that can be locked. Start walking people out- do not run. Tell them, “follow the leader, walk don’t run.”
If dealing with an armed troublemaker, armed volunteers should be using cover but also moving quickly to the active shooter. Stay in control and walk purposefully. Keep the possibility of “outriders” in mind and protect your weapon from well meaning bystanders that may try to grab the weapon from you!
Give commands forcefully but calmly. If you are armed, you should avoid any physical contact that may lead to losing control of your weapon. If you are confronted with disparity of force (more than one assailant or a deadly weapon) do what is appropriate.
Remember the 21 ft rule. Stay at safe distance and wait for law enforcement. If your gun is out (which it normally would be if you are confronted with a contact weapon) holster your weapon before the police arrive- but stay prepared. You should have a good distance between yourself (the armed volunteer) and the perpetrator. Do not attempt to handcuff or make any physical contact with an aggressor. You are not trained to do that. If there is even a possibility that the troublemaker is armed then stay behind cover at all times if possible.
1. Holler give commands, to those around you, “Get on the floor. Do not run, get down.”
2. Remember that bullets do not stop when they hit a perpetrator (or a wall). By kneeling or shooting from close to the floor your rounds travel upward, thus minimizing the chance of stray rounds hitting innocent bystanders.
3. Those willing to take the shooter down should rush the shooter and keep coming until he is down. Push people down or out of the way, even run over children while shouting commands, “Get down, do not run, get on the floor!”
4. Those who choose to fight should focus on the weapon not the person. Control the weapon. After the active shooter has been subdued, march everyone out to a safe place in the manner described above. Someone needs to call for medical assistance at this point.
5. When LEOs arrive all weapons should already be put away if possible. Make sure not to pick up the shooter’s weapon but keep your foot on it or secure it if there is a chance someone may pick it up. Do what the police tell you to do. Identify the wrongdoer to the police and make sure the police know that he had to be stopped in order to prevent innocent people from becoming victims. Point out evidence such as spent casings, weapons, etc. but do not provide details without a lawyer present.
Note well: You will be experiencing an enormous rush of adrenaline but resist the urge to talk too much and make sure that you are not holding a weapon or doing anything when the police arrive that might cause them to regard you as a threat. That means to drop your gun on the floor without hesitation when commanded to do so.
Please do not rely on this short set of suggestions as legal advice. Every situation is governed upon very specific facts. Get training in the laws of self-defense and know the laws of your jurisdiction. Talk to local police authorities and ask them to discuss your threat response plan with you. You alone are responsible for your actions, especially if you are ever faced with protecting innocent members of the public from the threat of deadly force.
If anything herein is helpful, individuals, churches and businesses are encouraged to reproduce this article without permission. We encourage you to submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can augment or correct what we have provided so far. This article is a work in progress.