20 Active Shooter and Active Killer Prevention Strategies

These are the steps your organization should take to increase the chances that a planned active shooter or active killer attack will be averted.

20 Active Shooter and Active Killer Prevention Strategies

Although there are no active shooter prevention strategies and active killer-types of attacks that have been proven to work 100 percent of the time, there are prevention approaches that are worth the effort they require. A number of these have been used to successfully avert mass casualty attacks, and some of these have been effective in preventing multiple attacks.

Jump to the 20 prevention strategies here.

In every planned attack I have worked to date, the media reporting about the actual facts of the cases is likely to be inaccurate in many regards. Only the full case file will give us a reliable picture of what happened and what if any real opportunities there might have been to prevent these attacks. However, these types of case reviews often reveal at least some potential for interrupting large-scale attacks.

While emergency preparedness efforts are especially important for situations where an active shooter or active killer incident cannot be prevented, it is my experience that it is unwise to spend more time, energy and budget on responding to these catastrophes than on trying to prevent them in the first place.

This article will focus on potential strategies that can increase the chances that a planned attack will be prevented. A comprehensive approach using multiple strategies is more reliable than a focus on only one or two concepts.

Active Killer Trends

Recent active killer incidents like the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that left 49 dead and 53 wounded and the horrific mass casualty stabbing at a care home in Tokyo that left 19 people dead and 45 people seriously wounded have commonalities to many previous attacks. That being said, they were also different in significant ways. For example, it has not been typical of past U.S. active shooter events for the incident to start as an active shooter incident before turning into a hostage situation. Next, the death toll of these incidents both set records at the time for fatalities for their respective attack methodologies in each country.

There have been a number of more lethal active shooter and active killer incidents in other countries, such as the 2014 Peshawar school massacre that left 148 dead in Pakistan, the 1982 active shooter attack by a police officer in Woo Bum-kon, South Korea that left 56 people dead and the 2011 Utoya Island active shooter attack at a summer camp in Norway that resulted in 69 dead

While there are no foolproof methods to guarantee that active shooter and active killer events won’t take place in a particular setting, there are strategies that provide possibilities and probabilities that attacks can be averted. While there are other viable approaches that can be helpful in reducing the risks of active shooter attacks, these strategies are among the most practical for the majority of campus settings.

These strategies should be viewed as options to be considered rather than pass/fail items on a checklist that every campus organization should have in place. In addition, it is important to remember that each campus organization will be safer if it adopts a customized blend of strategies designed to fit local risks, realities and resources. Many planned campus attacks have been successfully thwarted using techniques described in this article.

Now read the 20 Active Shooter and Active Killer Prevention Strategies!

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at mike@weakfish.org. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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