According to a retired Secret Service agent, Parkland’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglass staff was well
aware of the lack of security as much as 60 days before the fatal shooting took place. The former agent, Steve Wexler,
was invited to review the high school for security and he reported numerous weaknesses to the MSD staff including:
“Gates were unlocked. Students did not wear identification badges. A fire alarm could send students streaming into the halls. Active-shooter drills were inadequate,” he said.
In addition, he noted, “This stuff is blatantly obvious. You’ve got to fix this,’” Wexler said. He never
heard from the school again. His recommendations included:
1. School gates should be locked, and students should wear ID badges showing they belong on campus.
The shooter on Feb. 14 was able to get on campus because the gates were opened at the end of the school day.
Active-shooter drills should be routine. After the shooting, some students said they had not been involved
in drills this year.
Any adult should be able to declare a Code Red to lock down the school. Clark, the school district spokeswoman, said that is the current protocol, but Wexler said he was told an assistant principal notifies the principal, who then makes the call. “That’s a problem,” he said he told the staff. “This stuff happens fast. This playing telephone is no good. By that time we could sit down and have breakfast.”
Schools should not immediately evacuate students for a fire alarm without first confirming there’s a fire. During the shooting, the gunfire set off the smoke alarm, and students fled into the halls, where the shooter could take aim.
LESSONS LEARNED 1. If you have a security iny weaknesses identified by an expert – TAKE THEIR ADVICE AND
fix the issues that were identified!
Liability increases if staff were clearly warned BEFORE an incident that there were
existing security weaknesses.
“Good Guy with Gun” Didn’t Work at Parkland’s School Shooting Sheriff’s Deputy was Armed and
On site During Incident, but Stayed Out to Save Himself, Leaving Students and Staff to Die
RISKAlert Report Updated: Feb 23, 2018
According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, there was an armed Sheriff’s deputy on the scene of the Parkland Massacre.
He stood outside while the shooter hunted down and murdered seventeen children and staff members. The deputy could hear the screaming and the gunfire. But he let the shooting carry on for minutes that literally meant life or death.
“I’m Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words. These families lost their children. We lost coaches. I’ve been to the funerals,” Sheriff Israel, obviously shaken, said at a press conference on Thursday. Asked what the officer should have done, Israel responded, “Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
The cowardly deputy, Scott Peterson, who left the children to fend for themselves, was put on administrative leave and now has resigned. A security camera caught the deputy outside the building, within earshot of the shootings.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, other issues in the law enforcement response have come to light, including two other deputies were placed on restricted duty on Thursday because they may have mishandled tips called in to the sheriff’s office over the past two years warning that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, appeared intent on becoming a school shooter, Sheriff Israel said
1. ACCESS CONTROL MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. Obviously, arming teachers
won’t work. Metal detectors work 100% of the time, and don’t hang back in
the parking lot.
2. Starting Monday, we can help schools LOCK THEIR DOORS, get some basic Access Controls in place, and commit to PROTECTING THESE STUDENTS!
As an active shooter expert, the last thing I expected yesterday was a shooting in my own neighborhood. I left a meeting at about 2:30 ET and noticed that there were sirens and emergency vehicles everywhere. They were racing to respond to an alert at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which has now become the site of one of the worst school shootings in American history.
Parkland is an affluent residential community that backs up to the Everglades. The school was named to honor Stoneman Douglas, an environmentalist who fought to protect Florida’s Everglades. In fact, just this week, the city was ranked as the 15th safest city in America and one of the safest cities in Florida.
But it could not be protected from an active shooter. Minutes after the ambulances flew by; I got the alert on my phone: an active shooter situation practically in my own backyard. By the next morning, we knew much more.
Initially, it was reported as one person dead but by late last night, however; the number had ballooned to 17 students and staff killed, and fifteen more in the hospital. It was the 18th school shooting of 2018, which averages out to almost one every other day so far this year.
A former student, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was arrested near the school. He allegedly entered the school with the other students and pulled the fire alarm, so they would run out into the hall where he opened fire. In addition to shooting students inside the building he also reportedly took aim at victims as they attempted to flee the hail of gunfire.
A student interviewed by the media said he knew the kid who had the gun, and that the student had shown him photos of guns on his phone. Cruz’s Instagram account also reportedly featured not only photos of guns, but of frogs and lizards he had tortured and then killed. According to published reports, he had posted on social media: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
Many students who were interviewed yesterday and today said the shooter was someone they thought might have been a dangerous person. He had a troubled background, including behavioral problems, and had been recently expelled from the school.
As politicians on every TV channel discussed the future of gun control, the political aspects of America’s gun problem and the role of the National Rifle Association in effectively blocking gun legislation, the real truth is that we need to protect schools now, not fight endlessly about long term solutions. The great technological advances in security have created realistic security solutions that can better protect students and schools today.
Immediate Steps to Shore Up School Security
Access control is the starting point. If you can’t control access, anyone can bring any kind of guns into our schools. Stand-alone metal detectors are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Wand scanners could be deployed tomorrow. Backpacks and cases need to be scanned or opened.
Limit and alarm entrances to the schools. No school is secure if there are multiple entrances, and if anyone can enter the school undetected. All exterior doors should be locked 100 percent of the time, not propped open, and doors should be checked weekly to make sure they close effectively.
Actively monitor security cameras. Cameras should be set up for active monitoring on every egress door, so that if a shooter somehow gets in, they can be discovered at the first shot and then isolated so that students are removed from the immediate area. Students could have been prevented from putting themselves in harm’s way, or even rescued.
Leverage gunshot detection solutions. Gunshot detection software can alert at the sound of the first round fired.
Color photo ID badges should be issued to every student and worn at all times. They cost almost nothing and instantly help to keep people out who should not be in the facility, such as the shooter who carried out this massacre.6. Use bullet-resistant backpacks and white boards. Though they can’t stop a gunman, these products can help children and staff protect themselves when all else fails.
Florida schools are required to “lockdown” if an active shooter code is called. This is not an effective procedure and the number of victims in the Parkland massacre show that it is ineffective. It does not limit the shooter once they are inside the facility and it prevents students from being able to exit quickly.
Once again, as was the case in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, we saw law enforcement holding back instead of entering the school sooner and finding and eliminating the shooter before he kills more students and then just strolls away down the street.
Long Term Solutions
Long term solutions should always be pursued but they must include a national discussion on access to lethal and automatic weapons. More stringent background checks need to be implemented, as we have seen with every active shooter incident, including the 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, the aforementioned massacre at the Pulse nightclub and even the 2016 New York bombing in which the suspect’s father called the FBI to report his child was planning to kill people and nothing was done.
These are long-term political solutions, but the conversation today and tomorrow and the day after that needs to be about preventing school shootings and mass casualty events, which require the implementation of mandatory controls/solutions that can be deployed tomorrow, not in three years.
Back in Parkland, this close knit community has been terrorized and there is no resolution. The most aggravating thing about the Parkland massacre is: one more time, it’s too late. No matter how many drills and training were done, it didn’t help.
About the Author:
Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton is a risk expert and Futurist, who creates innovative facility security risk assessment solutions, including how to prevent active shooters and workplace violence in healthcare, education, government, and manufacturing sectors. As part of the DoD Defense Industrial Base, she lives in South Florida near Parkland, and works every day to keep people safe.
Parkland Deadly School Shooting 2 miles from me and here’s what I saw for
Valentine’s Day – BULLETS NOT FLOWERS at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas
3rd Deadliest School Shooting in History – called a SCHOOL MASSACRE
I live right next to Parkland, FL and was out shopping at 2:30 when I heard the sirens from about a dozen
police cars and emergency vehicles. They followed the street right by my house, and as soon I got home,
I checked the TV and saw what had happened – another deadly School Shooting.
Parkland is usually so quiet, just YESTERDAY it was named safest city in the US. Another student said he
knew the kid who had the gun, and that the student had shown him photos of guns on his phone.
The shooter, now identified as Nikolas Cruz, was caught in his care close to the school, and has been
charged in court. Fifteen others are till in the hospital.
I could see the police helicopter from my upstairs window.
So when I do active shooter assessments for healthcare
and other critical organiztions all day, and write about these incidents every day and night.
Here’s the real thing – right next to me!
My kids are out of school, but my hear still stopped, and I wanted to call every parent I know and check on their kids. I dread seeing the list of the injured. My grandson’s classmate’s father was killed. He was a coach at the high school.
So now this close knit community has been terrorized and there is no resolution. The person in custody is only
19-20 years old himself, and, accordingly to one of his friends, thought that having guns was ‘really cool’.
Well – it’s not really cool. It’s really horrible, really stupid.
The most aggravating thing about this is: One more time, it’s too late. No access control = high chance of
active shooter. No checking or scanning backpacks and here’s what you get. Dead and injured children
FORGET WHY he did it — WE OWE IT TO OUR CHILDREN TO PUT PREVENTION FIRST!
This can happen anywhere, and it just happened again!
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe or get more information on RISKAlerts, and a new complete Active Shooter-
Workplace Violence Assessments, Training and Improved Emergency
When I turned on the news today, I was in the middle of writing an article on the 2nd Shooting
at Ft. Hood from last week, and then saw that there had been a violent knife attack at a
Pennsylvania high school, with 20 casualties and at least eight injured critically, the next day,
there was a hate crime shooting at the Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas.
Once again, we see violence on a mass scale, the FBI has been brought in, and next will come
information on the victims. With two major events, in two weeks, what can we deduce about the
security in place at both Franklin Regional High School, Pennsylvania, and Fort Hood, Texas.
NEWS FLASH: THE CURRENT SECURITY MODEL IS NOT WORKING!
CURRENT SECURITY MODELS
Disaster preparedness is improving, Emergency Management is working, but security is still not where it needs to be. It is a systemic problem based on the fact that security around
the U.S. is still locked in a REACTIVE mode, not a PROACTIVE mode.
The main reason for this reactive mode in security organizations, is because most security
officers come from a law enforcement background, with a model which is based on crimes
and arrests, and it is totally REACTIVE. A crime happens and police officers go into action
and arrest the perpetrator(s).
CRIME HAPPENS = PERP IS IDENTIFIED = PERP IS ARRESTED
Unfortunately, this reactive model does not work for preventing security incidents and mass violence
because it is INCIDENT DRIVEN, not Risk-Driven. It focuses on individuals, not on a more holistic,
generalized view of Threats, and it totally leaves Solutions (Controls) out of the equation.
After studying pages of after action reviews, post-incident analyses and media sources, the one
recommendation that makes sense is that organizations need to switch to a RISK-BASED,
PROACTIVE mode for security to work.
This was highlighted in a remark made by a Pentagon official, commenting on the 2nd Fort Hood
Shooting on April 2, and the fact that new DOD recommendations for security, had just been released.
“After the Navy Yard shooting in September 2013, another round of recommendations were made to improve security at all DOD installations, however, a Pentagon official said thatthe new
recommendations had not yet been put into effect at Fort Hood. At Fort Hood, very little had
changed from 2009 regarding security procedures for soldiers at the entrance gates.”
The question for the Department of Defense is “how could this happen again at the same military
base? I took extra time to study the 89-page document called An Independent Review “Protecting
the Force”, one of 3 reports created after the initial Fort Hood Shooting, whene 13 were killed, and
If you look at the recommendations, they are very bureaucratic and procedural. They could have
been written by an efficiency expert, not by anyone with a background in security, and covered things
like policy changes, and having screening for clergy and psychologists, and improved mental health
programs. These are all important, but they do not provide a secure environment.
The LAX after action analysis’ Number One recommendation was to change
the security focus to a Risk-Based approach.
The problem with a reactive approach is that you can’t screen and lock down everyone. At Fort
Hood, for example, there are 80,000 individuals living on the base, and probably hundreds of
visitors who go in and out every day. It’s impossible to assess the mental health, and the
‘intentions’ of all of them.
That’s why a Risk-Based Approach works – because it focuses on the potential threats and then evaluates the existing controls to see whether they offer the required amount of protection based on the likelihood of the threat occurring.
You stop violent events by controlling access and by controlling weapons. No matter how unpopular they are, you use metal detectors at certain points, you use security officers at key entrances, you control entrances and exits.
Once the event starts, you can improve security by having faster notification (panic alarms), ability
to block, or disable weapons and attackers, adequate transport, better emergency response, but to
avoid the violence, you need to have strong access control.
The Risk-Based approach makes use of annual risk assessments that are holistic in nature. They
are not done in stovepipes, they include the entire organizations, they include input from staff
members, visitors, students, vendors, soldiers, patients on how they see security from their point
of view, which is always dramatically different from management or administration.
A risk-based approach requires an organization to:
Define potential security risks.
Develop standardized risk assessment processes, for gathering and
analyzing information, and use of analytical technology
Risk-Based Security focuses on PREVENTION OF NEW INCIDENTS
whether they are active shooter, general violence, etc.
Enhances security’s ability to rapidly respond to changes in the threat environment.
MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK
According the LAX (LAWA) after action report, “Simply adding more security does not
necessarily provide better security. Determining priorities and where to achieve great
value for the dollars invested requires regular, systematic assessment of the likelihood
and consequences (risks) associated with a range of threat scenarios that morph and
change more quickly now than ever before.
Collaborative engagement in a security risk assessment process across the community builds
the buy-in needed to develop and sustain a holistic security program over time. Leaders must
be open to challenging established practices and demonstrate a willingness to change direction”.
Making the switch to a Risk-Based security program is the best recommendation for those who
want to protect their staff, students, patients, vendors, clients, soldiers, and visitors from a mass
casualty event, or for all the organizations who don’t want to have a terrible incident happen in
the first place!
New Active Shooter app released to reduce likelihood of an Active Shooter Incident.
Active Shooter incidents have increased both in the number of incidents, as well as the number of people killed and injured in the last five years. As an aspect of workplace violence, the active shooter has become is a serious recognized occupational hazard, ranking among the top four causes of death in workplaces during the past 15 years. More than 3,000 people died from workplace homicide between 2006 and 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additional BLS data indicate that an average of more than 15,000 injuries were annually during this time.
The latest figures show that high-risk organizations like hospitals, schools, malls, universities, military installations and even hair salons have experienced an active shooter incident and are likely to have a dramatically increased risk for experiencing an active shooter incident in the future.
In additional to using the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Guidelines on Active Shooter Response, the OSHA standard 3148 (Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care, the FBI and Secret Service Guidelines on Active Shooter Incidents, and the new OSHA Inspection Directive, Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Incidents of Workplace Violence, from September, 2011, are both included in the new, easy-to-use application.
Risk & Security LLC is a security risk assessment and risk analysis company with over 30 years of combined expertise in security risk assessment. It develops specialized programs and applications which are easy to use, affordable and which help organizations assess their risk, the likelihood of becoing a target, and which recommend cost-effective solutions.
Risk & Security offers full service consulting on critical risk assessments including HIPAA Risk Analysis, Facilities Security Assessments, Hospital Security Assessments, Workplace Violence, Active Shooter Incident Assessment, Environment of Care and more. Risk & Security partners with security companies around the world to provide state-of-the-art security expertise to analyze risk and recommend cost-effective security controls justified by return on investment metrics.
The team of risk and security experts is led Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton, who has created more than 40 software programs, and conducted more than 200 specialized security risk assessments in a variety of environments, including companies in the United States and around the world, including in Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa and Qatar.
More Tornado victims will be buried this week. Including many children who died at their schools because the school district didn’t spend the extra $3000 to have a storm cellar/safe room available.
One month ago, we watched as victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings were buried.
Yesterday, we watched an Islamic Jihadist savagely kill a young British soldier with knives.
What other events do we have to witness before we start taking security assessments seriously? How many more grieving parents do we have to watch crying on TV and, in my opinion, the casualities did not need to be so high and the aftermath so catastrophic.
If you group all these disasters together, you can that at the root of each one, is the feeling that, “IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE”….. Britain, for example, has tolerated mosques preaching hate, thinking that nothing like the knife attack could happen in civilized London.
In Moore, Oklahoma, people thought, “we already had a major tornado, so IT CAN’T HAPPEN AGAIN”! Well, surprise – it happened again. While forecasters cannot dictate the exact path of a tornado, they can get close, and with just fifteen minutes advance warning, there is time to get everyone into storm cellars, safe rooms and underground shelters. BUT IF THERE IS NO SHELTER AT A SCHOOL…….
Many obvious solutions-controls-safeguards were missed in these recent tragedies because proper, formal security risk assessments weren’t done effectively. If they had been done, perhaps the London police could have picked up someone who touted murder and hate.
If a risk assessment had been done in Moore, OK, maybe the high risk of a tornado would have allowed the schools to all add the safe rooms they needed, and in Boston, the older brother Boston bomber, should have been in jail already for his participation in a previous murder – or at least actively monitored based on his facebook postings.
The clues are all there, and, looking backwards, you can see the pieces that SHOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH TO PROMOTE some kind of actionto either:
1. Eliminate the threat or,
2. Reduce the severity of a potential threat in case it occurred.
Security risk assessments gather the numbers and the information organizations need to make better choices about how to protect people’s lives, facilities, and organizations. I hope these events will prompt more Security Directors to take an objective and unbiased look at their own organizations, and the controls they have in place, before you end up on CNN!
After the attack on the Benghazi mission and the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, its apparent that what these two terrible incidents have in common is that security was not adequate.
In Benghazi, after the hearings and the pundits and speculation, the bottom line is that there was insufficient security. In-place security controls were not sufficient to deter an attack, and the emergency controls were also not sufficient to recover and deal with the emergency attack.
In Newtown, at Sandy Hook Elementary, security was inadequate. Security people often say that security is just as good as the weakest link, and despite adding new security controls, it was defeated because of the glass entry. The shooter wasn’t allowed in so he simply broke the glass. That slowed him up by 2 minutes, maybe. Also backup security controls were non-existent. The shooter was observed and still there was no effective response.
There are three elements to security – DETER, DENY and RESPOND:
DETER – means to make the facility look too difficult to attack, and so the attacker thinks it’s too hard and goes away.
DENY – means that it is impossible for the attacker to get into the facility to launch an attack.
RESPOND/PROTECT means that after the attack is launched, the facility can defend itself, or to protect the individuals and/or property inside the facility.
Both Benghazi and Newtown did not deter,didn’t deny access, and didn’t have an adequate security response.
The Newtown shooting showed that this school, like many others across the country, had a false sense of security, because while some security elements were in place, the shooter easily entered the school, making the other elements irrelevant and him to inflict mass casualties.
In both cases, the response was not adequate, it was ‘too little too late’. And ‘too late’ means the attack can’t be stopped or contained.
The WHY is easy, because the security budget was inadequate. These facilities did not have adequate risk assessments that could have demonstrated the critical assets contained within them. What is more critical than classrooms of 6 year old children? What is more critical than a State department facility with a U.S. ambassador inside? Yet both didn’t have the protective security controls they deserved because their wasn’t enough budget for enough security.
Another element these incidents have in common is that they are both government facilities. Yes, one was the Federal government and one was a local school district – but they both had the same problem of being short on budgets. And when organizations are short on budgets, security is one of the first things to get their funding cut, or reduced.
Every facility needs a SECURITY risk assessment up front, how else can you allocate the funding and make sure that there is ENOUGH security in place to protect our most critical assets, our children?
We can control regular access to our facilities, schools and hospitals. We can have visitors sign into a visitors log. We can take photos and ask for identification and lock the doors, but the Active Shooter doesn’t comply with any of these protocols and we have no control about when and where the Active Shooter may show up.
Here are some additional controls to consider if you need to improve your school or facility security.
1. Put in Cameras that are actively MONITORED.
For security experts, you already know this, but others might not know that cameras that just sit on the wall or ceiling only have 2 purposes: (1) To scare people into NOT doing something. (2) To review after an incident happens and use to arrest someone.
Cameras can also be used to monitor what goes in – ACTIVE monitoring. This can be done in a facility, like a hospital, or company, and there are staff members looking at the camera visuals and watching for certain kinds of behavior. This is also offered as a service. Monitored cameras can alert police, check to see who’s entering the halls and actually respond and prevent Active Shooter incidents.
2. Conduct regular training and drills for ALL STAFF and for all STUDENTS
People give lip service to training, but there’s nothing as effective as practicing for an active shooter. It’s one thing to know where to go, or what to do, but it’s so much better to rehearse with a drill, have someone come in, unannounced and practice
moving to a safe area, practice locking down a school, hospital or facility. This will expose all the weak areas, and make people more confident that they can deal with a bad situation and protect everyone.
3. Have a clear NO WEAPONS – NO VIOLENCE Policy in place.
Policies are important because they say, “It’s a mandate, it’s a requirement” and that means most staff will comply with it.
No Weapons signs should be posted at all entrances. Any violence should be reported and punished immediately. This has a deterrent effect, as well as giving you the legal ground to stand on if an incident does occur. It also makes staff and students feel safer.
4. Know EXACTLY what the response time from the police department, in case an incident occurs.
You can time your drills, you can have a conference with local law enforcement to trim down their response times. You can pro-actively provide law enforcement and first responders with the building floor plans, or a digital map of the building. These preparations shave crucial minutes off the actual response time in case an incident does occur.
Think about how many people a shooter can kill in ten minutes, more than 2 children a minute. Every second counts so step up and add these four controls into your security control plans.
After 30 years of security risk assessment experience and working with hundreds of schools, hospitals, facilities, I have to say that schools have not taken school security seriously.
Obviously there are the social pressures including mental health screening, proposed assault weapons bans, gun owner screening, etc., but these are the thing that won’t change overnight. EVEN IF THEY ARE LEGISLATED, it takes time to implement, and
implementation may not be perfect.
TODAY IS THE DAY TO DO A SCHOOL VIOLENCE ASSESSMENT – not tomorrow, not after new gun laws, not after the holidays — TODAY.
There are indicators you can look for to see if your school is at risk of an active shooter incident. And ways to be prepared if the unthinkable happens and an active shooter comes to your school.
Strong, simple access control is the most effective solution, and yes, this may mean that
a plain glass front door or window is not enough. Glass is easily broken, and yes, it means that all staff must be a little more accountable, and it probably means a red phone or connection to the local police.
There is a simple school risk assessment program that will give guidance on what you need to do TODAY, what controls you need to implement, what threats are most likely to occur. These can be accessed on the www.riskandsecurityllc.com website.
Some things are preventable, some aren’t. But lockdown drills, alarm systems, and active monitoring of cameras are just a few of the 60 controls every school should have in place to protect our precious children.