United States: Active Shooter Response - Developing An Effective Policy

Seyfarth Synopsis: Unfortunately,  workplace violence  is becoming an ever increasing liability in the workplace. Despite the presence of workplace violence prevention programs intended to avoid this hazard entirely within the workplace,  it is becoming all to frequent that  there may be an active shooter incident at the workplace. This Management Alert will provide a discussion of the elements  of an effective active shooter policy as well as an example that can be used to develop an  actual policy.  

INTRODUCTION

As the pace and emotional pressures of everyday life impact both employees at home and in the workplace, as well as unknown individuals (including terrorists), a distressing and tragic trend is occurring — employees and unknown individuals are unable to control their emotions at work or have ulterior criminal motives and violence erupts toward co-employees, customers or third parties.  The unfortunate statistics show that homicide is the number one cause of death for women in the workplace and the third overall cause for men and women.  In many cases, these acts of violence occur as employees face the prospect of lay-offs and corporate reorganizations in many industries.

No employer wants such incidents to occur.  Ironically, however, as employers struggle to avoid these potential legal liabilities through creation and enforcement of employment policies, they are met with a host of federal and state laws which may protect certain employee conduct.  More importantly, since an employer has no objective "litmus test" for predicting which employee may become violent under particular triggering circumstances, there is no fool-proof way to effectively eliminate the hazard. Likewise, an employer cannot predict whether unknown individuals may decide to commit random acts of violence because of mental and emotional conditions or for misguided political or religious motivations.

OSHA

Under OSHA's General Duty Clause, an employer is required to protect its employees against "recognized hazards likely to cause serious injuries or death." As such, an employer should consider developing a workplace violence prevention and response policy.

In developing its policy, the employer should, at minimum, include these elements:

  • A stated management commitment to protecting employees against the hazards of workplace violence, including both physical acts and verbal threats;
  • A statement that the employer has a "zero tolerance" policy toward threats or acts of violence and will take appropriate disciplinary action against employees who engage in such conduct;
  • Identify means and methods for employees to notify the employer of perceived threats of violent acts in a confidential manner;
  • Establish a means to promptly investigate all such threats or violent acts;
  • Develop consistent, firm discipline for violations of the policy;
  • Provide training to managers and employees to identify signs and symptoms of employee behavior which may predict potential violence (erratic behavior; employee comments regarding homicide or suicide; provocative communications; disobedience of policies and procedures; presence of alcohol, drugs or weapons on the worksite; physical evidence of employee abuse of alcohol or drug use) which should be reported to the employer;
  • A non-retaliation policy for employees who report verbal and physical conduct to the employer which they reasonably believe represents a threat of potential workplace violence;
  • Establish a team of qualified individuals (e.g. human resources; risk managers; legal; medical; security) either within the company or readily available third parties, to respond to a potential or actual incident; and
  • Consider establishing an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) to provide assistance to employees who may be experiencing mental or emotional stress before an act of violence occurs.

ACTIVE SHOOTER EMERGENCY RESPONSE POLICY

Unfortunately, despite the fact that many employers have developed workplace violence prevention and response policies, there have tragically been instances where an "active shooter", an employee or an unknown individual, has come to the premises and utilized a firearm to attempt to kill employees and other persons who may be at the workplace. In anticipation of such a possibility, the employer should consider developing an active shooter emergency response policy to inform employees of the three courses of action to take in such instance,

·         evacuate

·         hide out, or

·         self defense

and how to react when law enforcement arrives.

The below policy sets out recommendations gathered from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, other law enforcement agencies and recognized industry sources. Employer's should consider developing such a policy, utilizing the enclosure, while customizing it to the employer's worksite. We welcome comments on the policy. If an employer has an interest in receiving assistance in developing a policy or in conducting training the author and/or attorneys in the Firm's Workplace Safety and Environmental Group are available to provide such assistance.

ACTIVE SHOOTER EMERGENCY RESPONSE POLICY

PURPOSE:

This policy is intended to provide guidance in the event an individual is actively shooting persons at the workplace and to comply with applicable regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

POLICY

It is the policy of the Company to provide an active shooter emergency response plan to alert employees that an active shooter appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people at the workplace.

DEFINITIONS:

For purposes of this Policy:  An active shooter is defined as a person or persons who appear to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people at the Company's premises. In most cases active shooters use a firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. In some cases active shooters use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices to cause additional victims and act as an impediment to police and emergency responders. These improvised explosive devices may detonate immediately, have delayed detonation fuses, or detonate on contact.

PROCEDURES:

1. The first employee to identify an active shooter situation:

As soon as possible, should call the Company emergency number (_________________) and announce a prearranged code (e.g., "Active Shooter") (with the location of the incident) and a physical description of the person(s) with the weapon, and type of weapon, if known.

2.  The emergency operator upon notification will:

Provide a public announcement "Code __________ (and the location)" on the public address system.

3. The emergency operator or any employee who is at a location distant from the active shooter, such as in a different area or floor, will contact 911.

4. The phone call to 911 (from the area where the caller is safely concealed) should provide the following information to the police:

a. Description of suspect and possible location.

b. Number and types of weapons.

c. Suspect's direction of travel.

d.  Location and condition of any victims

POTENTIAL RESPONSES

In response to an active shooter event, there will be three potential courses of action 1) evacuate, 2) hide out, 3) self-defense. The following guidelines identify these courses of action:

EVACUATE

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises, following these recommendations:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions of any police officers
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe

HIDE OUT

If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you, with these recommendations:

The hiding place should:

  • Be inconspicuous
  • Be out of the active shooter's view
  • Provide physical protection if shots are fired in your direction (e.g., locating into a bathroom and locking the door, staying as low to the floor as possible and remaining quiet and motionless)
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering the hiding place:

  • Lock the door
  • Blockade the door with heavy furniture

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door
  • Silence cell phones and/or pagers
  • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions)
  • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
  • Remain quiet and motionless

SELF-DEFENSE

If it is not possible to evacuate or hide, then consider self-defense, with these recommendations:

  • Remain calm
  • Dial 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter's location
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the 911 dispatcher to listen

Take action against the active shooter and only when you believe your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter as follows:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Commit yourself to defensive physical actions

LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE

The police will arrive to respond to the emergency, follow these recommendations:

1.   Comply with the police instructions. The first responding officers will be focused on stopping the active shooter and creating a safe environment for medical assistance to be brought in to aid the injured.

2.   When the police arrive at your location:

a)   Remain calm, and follow officers' instructions

b)   Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)

c)   Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers

d)   Keep your hands visible at all times

e)   Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety

f)   Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling

g)   Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the area or to an area to which they direct you

h)   notify Company representatives that you have evacuated the premises

3.   When the police arrive the following information should be available:

a)   Number of shooters

b)   Number of individual victims and any hostages

c)   The type of problem causing the situation

d)   Type and number of weapons possibly in the possession of the shooter

e)   All necessary Company representatives still in the area as part of the Company's emergency management response

f)   Identity and description of participants, if possible

g)   Keys to all involved areas as well as floor plans

h)   Locations and phone numbers in the affected area

POST-INCIDENT ACTION

When the police have determined that the active shooter emergency is under control, the emergency operator will provide a public announcement that the emergency is over by using a prearranged Code (e.g., "All Clear")

POLICE INVESTIGATION

After the police have secured the premises, the Company will arrange to have designated Management representatives participate in the law enforcement investigation of the incident, including identifying witnesses and providing requested documents.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

The Company will designate Management representatives who will engage with emergency responders who provide medical assistance to injured employees, including ensuring that all required medical benefit and insurance documentation is provided.

NOTIFICATION OF RELATIVES

The Company will designate Management representatives to notify relatives of any injured employees in a timely fashion.

OSHA

In the event that there is a fatality or one employee is hospitalized for treatment, OSHA must be notified. If there is a fatality, OSHA must be notified within eight (8) hours. In the event of a hospitalization of one employee for treatment, OSHA must be notified within twenty-four (24) hours. In addition, if the fatality or injury is work-related, the Company may have to record the incident on its OSHA 300 Log within seven (7) calendar days.

MEDIA

The Company will designate Management representatives who will respond to any media requests for information. Such representatives will carefully consider the nature of any such requests in order to avoid disclosing information about any person that is confidential and protected by Federal and state privacy and medical information laws and regulations and interfering with any ongoing police or internal Company investigation.

REFERENCES:

US Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter-How to Respond, October 2008

US Federal Bureau of Investigation Active Shooter Planning and Response in a Healthcare Setting, April 2015

COORDINATION:

1. This policy has been coordinated with the __________Police Department

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.