In a previous blog, I explored the ways in which workplaces, educational institutions, and similar establishments can properly train their staff to handle violent threats. In this regard, many organizations have utilized free Department of Homeland Security resources and adopted the “run, hide, fight” approach; which is rooted in both quick-thinking defensive measures and the active disruption of crises that have already started. This, in turn, has led to a general uptick in active shooter training programs rooted in this approach.

However, despite its best intentions, the “run, hide, fight” approach has become a somewhat divisive topic in the security and public safety communities. Some find the method to be ineffective in wake of several recent violent tragedies, such as the Las Vegas concert shooting in 2017 and the 2018 attack on a Pittsburgh Synagogue; they suggest that the approach does not “address the reality of an actual active shooter attack.” Others feel that change is unnecessary, and that we should instead focus on a number of other issues preventing it from adequately working.

The proposed problems

A big issue with using the Run, Hide, Fight model as a “fix-all” to address active shooter incidents is that it is a response-based approach. This is a common issue with DHS-led programs since the cabinet-level departments creation after 9/11; as it fostered effective, widespread programs based on incident command, response and emergency management; but relied on agencies like the FBI and US Secret Service to provide insight on prevention and threat identification. While it is extremely important to train employees on what to do if and when they are faced with a potential attack; equal resources are better spent on security, corporate policy and threat assessment to try to avert attacks before they occur.

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