As workplace violence becomes more prevalent in our society, we must develop new systems and strategies to counteract crimes against humanity.
On July 29, 1999, nine people were killed and 12 injured during a barrage of gunfire in two Atlanta office buildings. Armed with 9mm and .45 caliber pistols, the gunman stunned office workers when he began shooting and committed suicide shortly thereafter. A client of two stock brokerage firms in the buildings, the killer was disgruntled about financial losses from investments, according to police. They also linked him to the murders of his wife and two children as well as suspected him of killing his former wife and mother-in-law in 1993 (though no one filed charges).
Unfortunately, attacks like this continue to increase. In 1992, the Centers for Disease Control declared workplace violence a serious public health problem. In 1997, homicide was the second leading cause of death in the workplace. Workplace violence is now the number one threat on the minds of corporate security professionals. As one security chief for a large corporation said, "We'd like to think workplace violence is a rare tragedy, but it's starting to look more like a trend."
How can you keep your facility safe? Forget about traditional security equipment; it will only inform you of a break in. It won't prevent someone from going on a shooting rampage. You can also forget about a speedy police response. Typically, police keep things as calm as possible until the SWAT team arrives; which can take a while. So what can you do to protect yourself and your coworkers?
This 12-month course will discuss how to design new systems to address this alarming violence trend. Looking for solutions, we'll examine technologies used by the armed forces and some within the espionage business. While spy technology may be exotic, it can be effective and surprisingly available and inexpensive. The key is to develop systems that are cost effective and simple to install. Here are 10 basic layers of safety you should be familiar with:
1. Keep them away. This is your ultimate goal. You can accomplish this when prospective attackers perceive your facility as one where they have little or no chance of getting away with an attack.
Notice the word "perceive." This gives you an advantage. It's generally inexpensive to make a facility appear more invulnerable than it is. The classic example of this is placing a very large dog dish outside of your door. A burglar approaching your house sees the dish and assumes you own a large dog. In most cases, he'll move on to an easier target.
2. See them coming. This is where you use remote sensing technologies. Video monitoring (CCTV) is the most versatile of these technologies. Throughout this course, we'll cover the design and installation of CCTV systems in depth. Remote vehicle sensing is also helpful, as is the ability to sense the approach of trespassers. In all of these cases, you can use preprogrammed responses, such as sounding alarms, changing the aim and focus of cameras, and alerting personnel to respond or at least to take note of the situation. If you notice potential threats at a distance, you can address them early on. Getting a head start on the situation can be an important advantage.
3. Keep them out. Should a threat arise at your facility, access control devices (such as access cards, readers, electronic locks, and other similar devices) are superb at keeping unauthorized people out of restricted areas.
4. Locate the intrusion. Here's where traditional security technologies come into play. Once an attacker enters, you must be able to pinpoint his or her location. You need a security system equipped with pan-mounted video cameras and other remote sensors to feed you up-to-the minute information.
5. Call for help. Your calls for police assistance must be immediate to be effective. You can use traditional "digital communicators" or cellular technologies to complete calls for help, even if the attacker cuts all of the hard-wired telephone lines. Panic switches are also very important. These silent alarms allow you to call for help without alerting the attacker. You should also have an on-site personnel notification system. On-site workers can reach the scene faster than police. In these situations, time is everything.
6. Get the people out. Once you've identified and located a threat, get everyone out of the facility. People who stay put are sitting ducks. Voice evacuation systems are perfect for this. You can use them to tell people to get out and to indicate safe paths of exit. If used in conjunction with video monitoring equipment, they're invaluable to law enforcement officials during a crisis.
7. Stop the threat. This is where it gets interesting. If you don't stop a threat quickly, people may die. Diversions can provide the crucial time to get people out of a facility unharmed. A diversion may also stop the attacker. (You can trigger a number of diversionary tactics by remote control.) We'll discuss interesting and effective means to thwart an attack before the situation gets out of hand in upcoming lessons.
8. Keep the threat from returning. Once you drive an attacker away, you want to make sure they do not return. To do this, you must convince them that returning to your facility won't be easy. You can accomplish this by having strong physical evidence (usually videotapes) to assist the police in arresting them.
9. Eliminate legal damage. Legal damages are a serious threat to you and your company. And they don't have to make sense to be damaging. For example, an armed robber in New York recently won a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the city. His lawyer argued (and the judge ruled) that a policeman violated the robber's civil rights by shootinghim as he was holding someone up. Although we will not be giving any legal advice, we'll alert you to some potential legal threats.
10. Return to normal. Remember: Your losses only end when everyone returns to normal activities and efficiency.