Risk Insights

Active Shooter Incident Preparedness and Response Strategies

In recent years, active shooter incidents have become a growing concern across the United States. Also called a mass shooting in some situations, such an incident refers to an individual entering a populated area in order to kill or attempt to kill their victims, generally through the use of firearms. According to the FBI, the annual number of active shooter incidents doubled between 20217 (31 incidents) and 2021 (61 incidents), with three out of the five deadliest mass shootings taking place in the last decade. These incidents often result in serious damage and harm, even though FBI research found that the majority (70%) of mass shooting events span less than five minutes. With this information in mind, being adequately prepared for such events and utilizing effective response tactics can make all the difference in minimizing losses.

Considering properties that are easily accessible to the general public (e.g., businesses, government buildings, educational institutions and healthcare facilities) are common targets for these incidents, it’s especially vital for organizations to have mass shooting preparedness and response measures in place. After all, organizations have a responsibility to protect their employees, customers and other parties from possible dangers on-site – including active shooters. Failing to uphold this responsibility could lead to more fatalities and injuries after a mass shooting as well as increased recovery costs and liability concerns for the targeted organization.

This article outlines active shooter incident preparedness and response strategies organizations can implement to better protect their properties and people on-site against this rising threat.

Preparedness Strategies

The best way to offer protection against active shooter incidents is to be proactive. As such, organizations should consider the following preparedness strategies in order to properly safeguard employees, customers and other applicable paries from these events:

  • Conduct a threat assessment. Different organizations will possess varying exposures as they pertain to mass shootings. Make sure to perform a threat assessment to determine the probability of an active shooter incident on-site, identify related vulnerabilities and outline possible consequences. Conducting this assessment will provide further clarity on the specific preparedness measures necessary to minimize mass shooting exposures. 
  • Implement security protocols. Based on the results from the threat assessment, implement security protocols to help remedy active shooter incident vulnerabilities on-site and deter potential assailants. These protocols may include: 
    • Setting up video surveillance
    • Installing alarm systems
    • Leveraging screening technology at property entrances (e.g., metal detectors)
  • Establish a workplace violence prevention policy. Taking a zero-tolerance approach to violence of any kind within the workplace can help prevent dangerous or threatening behaviors from escalating.