Are retailers prepared for an active shooter?
WASHINGTON—The near-fatal shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which claimed the lives of six people in the parking lot of a Tuscon, Arizona Safeway supermarket, was a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of an active shooter event. Tragic events like this remind security professionals they must prepare their employees for the unthinkable. But what Joe LaRocca, senior asset protection advisor for the National Retail Federation, heard for years from retailers is that very few of them had active shooter plans built into their emergency plans.
However, events like the one in Tuscon are spurring retailers, and others in the private sector to be better prepared. And to help them properly train employees and staff, the NRF announced on March 31 that it has updated its active shooter emergency response guidelines, which were originally created in 2008. The association collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop an online interactive program that can help train employees how to respond during an active shooter event.
“We’ve heard that different companies are using some part of this program in their crisis management plan,” he said. “Some have rolled out an active shooter incident program, others are using pieces of this program to supplement their program.”
Educating employees was one of the most imperative components of preparation, LaRocca said. “Especially following law enforcement response to an incident, we quickly realized employees didn’t know when police arrive that they detain everyone for questioning and they didn’t realize everyone is treated as a suspect,” he said.
And no one plan will work for every organization, but some basic guidelines regarding ways to analyze the situation and react accordingly are outlined for organizations. “Retailers are going to develop a plan that’s right for their business environment,” he said.