Parkland High School Shooting, Valentine’s Day, Feb.14, 2018 & Violence Prevention

Posts Tagged ‘workplace violence’

Parkland High School Shooting, Valentine’s Day, Feb.14, 2018 & Violence Prevention

Posted on: February 15th, 2018

Updated on Feb. 16th, 2018.

Today, February 15, 2018, we awaken to the 18th school environment shooting. What was the motivation for the tragic shooting and murder of 17 unsuspecting high school students by the “disgruntled shooter” on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018. Why Valentine’s Day? For the purpose of clarity, let me say that this number includes all shootings that have taken place on school grounds. Before this shooting Parkland High School was domiciled in a community rated as one of the most crime free communities to live in.

What motivated this person to take out such aggression against innocent, unsuspecting high school students?  It wasn’t an idea he decided to pursue that morning so, it is safe to assume that he had been thinking about his plans over a period of time. But when was the planning conceived? We know now that the “shooter” was expelled from Parkland High School so the attack may have been a complete surprise.

We call this type of predisposed, premeditated shooter an “active shooter”. Before I offer an accepted definition, allow me to suggest that when the disgruntled person transitions to thoughts of revenge, you are likely to be confronted with an active shooter mentality. Therefore, workplace violence programs must focus on the prevention value in attempting to de-escalate thoughts of anger and retaliation.

In this discussion, let’s all accept that we have an unrestrained individual within a contained area exercising the use of lethal force and posing immediate risk, actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated or confined area using firearms. How did the shooter’s thinking get him to the incomprehensible stage in his life where communication concerns translated to the homicidal act of violence? When we know the active shooter’s mindset, we are familiar with the 5 phases or stages that can be integrated into the workplace violence prevention strategy and training; (1) Fantasy, (2) Planning, (3) Preparation, (4) Approach. and (5) Implementation. The Fantasy, Planning and Preparation stages are “prevention” opportunities.

As we reflect a moment on the Parkland High School Shootings, the fire bells exposed the children to the shooter. Quick thinking by teachers and students minimized risks and made the difference.

Workplace violence prevention consulting is an ongoing process involving multiple interdiction strategies that start at the top with a vision, mission, senior management commitment & investment. We must accept that until there’s an alignment between policy, plans, procedures, security, technology & people, “Prevention” will never be aligned. Alert, Notification & Communication is essential. Would your plan pass a critical vulnerability assessment?


Edit: the 18 school shootings include not only shootings by students in school during school hours, but also other perpetrators who shoot or have been shot while on school grounds at any time of day or night.

Workplace Violence – A Reality of Real Proportions

Posted on: February 8th, 2015

Since 1989 statistics and surveys generated by the American Society of Safety Engineers, Pinkerton, the Conference Board and other prominent organizations have consistently reported that workplace violence was a workplace security threat. In the years following September 11, 2001, Workplace Violence  remains a Reality of Real Proportions.  Workplace Violence remained in the top three categories of workplace security concerns: Workplace Violence, Business Continuity, Terrorism and Computer-Based Crimes in that order.

If workplace violence is truly a concern, can we imply by the surveys that companies are in denial or lack the resources to address the threat?

Is the counsel and advise requested falling short of viable solutions and tools available to workplaces? While technology alone is the not the solution to workplace violence prevention, proactive intervention strategies that include technology can create creditable value in the hearts and minds of the workforce.

In terms of viable alternatives,  on October 5, 2011, ASIS International and SHRM Released a Joint Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention ANSI Standard ASIS/SHRM Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention American National Standard aimed at helping organizations implement policies and practices to more quickly identify threatening behavior and violence affecting the workplace, and to engage in effective incident management and resolution.

The new Standard reflects a consensus from professionals in the fields of security, human resources, mental health, law enforcement, and legal. It serves as an important tool to help organizations evaluate current practices; develop or enhance workplace violence prevention and intervention programs; and effectively manage post-incident issues. So why aren’t workplaces familiar with this document and the value it offers? Can we defend our actions in the aftermath of a major workplace or school incident?

Does Your Firm Have a specific policy on Workplace Violence Prevention?

Could the lack of a coordinated response be the real threat to workplace safety in preventing workplace violence or has the discussion of probability justified no response or a limited response? I reluctantly say I think so. Though the decision to commit resources is certainly a thoughtful one, can a misunderstanding of what constitutes incidents of workplace violence be at the head of the discussion? How are workplace violence prevention consultants selected? Do we ask for verifiable proof of past performance or rely on warm and cozy feelings of compatibility when critical thinking should be the objective?

In reviewing employee handbooks on misconduct, a lack of specific references on the topic of workplace violence is evident. Often times relative references appear in different section throughout the handbooks without any specific mention or a dedicated section to workplace violence. Either the contributors to such handbooks are misinformed or just defining the behavior as “misconduct” under an umbrella clause? Whatever the reason(s), employees do not know what to report or why they are being cited. Could it be that no one on staff knows what constitutes workplace violence?

In reviewing newspaper accounts of recent workplace shooting incidents they appear to to cry out for intervention and prevention measures that might have had different outcomes.  Are these shooting incidents preventable? One familiar with prevention strategies could be in a better position to recognize the need for swift and appropriate interdiction and begin applying multiple intervention solutions. While the denial might be an unintentional consequence  of corporate misunderstandings, I submit that employers are concerned but might lack the awareness, understanding and the technical expertise. What can we do?

Applying Basic Strategies Might Help To Reduce the Threat.

Because most workplaces are unique, we recommend that you avoid the cookie-cutter mentality to deploying Workplace Security & Workplace Violence Prevention Strategies. When the approach is based on attempting to apply the cookie-cutter approach, one will miss the value of conducting unique work-site assessments that might not yield relevant vulnerabilities to your specific environment. The cookie-cutter approach in applying best practices do not always work. Basic strategies might not work without applying unique site-specific assessments and customized approaches.

All is not lost, because even with a little effort there are steps you can take to begin the process of identifying your unique characteristics and needs. May I suggest you begin the process with a site assessment, employee and management surveys, risk assessment, training, developing a policy and supporting programs and sustaining the effort with ongoing training and new employee orientations. When considering whether to begin the process of deploying a Workplace Violence Prevention Program or not, begin with a critical vulnerability assessment of your own business practices.

When was the last time you conducted an assessment of your workplace security and business practices? Or, when was the last time you had a medical examination?  

Can you survive the scrutiny of an OSHA complaint inquiry or a civil liability lawsuit? I would begin the process now rather than later. Having a demonstrated commitment can bolster credibility and create confidence in employees who otherwise have private discussions about where they might hide when the shooter comes in. Or why should I report a potential threat and have my job changed in the interest of safety? In many cases, both sides are mutually sharing the excuse of,if it’s not broke don’t fix it“.

The time has come for all workplaces to confirm the need to improve workplace violence prevention by asking tough questions that go to the core of how vulnerable are we or how prepared are our workplace, educational or healthcare institution employees in recognizing risk, at risk situations and responding to a hostile threat or active shooter.

Stop the cookie-cutter application of cutting and pasting policies and plans and do consider your workplace unique with unique circumstances. Begin the process by conducting a critical workplace violence prevention vulnerability assessment.