Webinar presenter Mark Warren answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Effective Response – the Value of Time During an Intruder Response Incident. Here are some of his responses.
Audience Question: Do you know if the US has a Good Samaritan Act or something similar that would protect someone from litigation if they shot back and killed an intruder or bystander?
Mark Warren: I'll be honest, both my partner and I, and some other people we are associated with are considered use of force experts and have testified in court on behalf of police officers using force as well as others. The reality is, in our society today, you have the right to defend yourself or others. Each State's going to be a little different. But as long as you can justify and articulate that you are to do it in defense of yourself or someone else — in these type of incidents, if somebody took a gun to that school in Parkland, Florida and kill that suspect, they would have so many people volunteering to represent them as use of force experts to defeat that case. I can't imagine a prosecutor bringing in charges against someone. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, we don't have a Good Samaritan Clause like we do from a medical responders' standpoint for an intruder. But again, now, we're talking about medical versus homicide in progress — and that's really what it is – a homicide in progress.
Audience Question: One of the problems of lockdown is that it equals lockout to law enforcement with the average of one person being shot every one to fifteen seconds, it keeps law enforcement from making quicker entry. Do you have some thoughts on that?
Mark Warren: Here's the reality, we start training with the instructor course to train police officers to go back and train their officers to respond to these things. After Columbine, schools started implementing lockdown procedure. What we started realizing because basic SWAT training says you never bypass an unknown threat. That locked and secured doors is an unknown threat. If you can't get through it and clear it, things change, our tactics change. Our whole job is to put pressure on these people. I view it differently when groups close and lockdown and secure that space and keep themselves removed from the threats, they're also leaving him fewer places to go in that larger building. You're compartmentalizing where he can go. Now, any room that's secured means he's either in a hallway, or an open bathroom or common area where he is more susceptible. I'd rather have him fight us that be looking for them. The counterargument is what if he goes into that room and he's got those people. If he's not actively killing them, then it becomes a hostage situation where typically we go into time-talk tactics and try to work into different resolutions. As far as the door being locked and barricaded, that's why when we teach people, we tell them coming out of lockdown isn't an emergency. When you open that door, you better make sure that you are right.
How do I know it's the police? I can give you an instance in Virginia where the suspect started yelling police trying to get people to come out of lockdown. That's why we say if there's any doubt, there is no doubt – remain locked down. The police are going to have a lot of pressure on them, they're going to be trying to get this done quickly. But the reality is, this is also where if we have time and opportunity, it's a good time to slow down, make sure that we have control over the overall situation. That we start controlling our process and we're going to get in that organized evacuation, so things should be slowing down at that point.
Police have to announce if they do find an open room. We're training people to fight back. In scenario-based training with police officers, I've had doors left unlocked, I have my role-players and they're fighting back, and they shot innocent people. It's a two-way street. There are all of those things. It's not just a simple answer. I like the question, but I see it as a non-issue for law enforcement as far as my perspective.
(Aaron): I will also mention that one of our audience members indicated that they actually provide law enforcement with master keys to their building.
Mark Warren: Yep, and we're seeing that, which means that they have trained with that local group. What they realize is that when we go on to lockdown, we're also telling them to put the impact-resistant film on the doors, so it's gotten to the point that police can't break a window to get it. You need to have that community link again where people are working together. I also want to remind people that we normally do after one of these, that any question that I don't answer, or they send in, that I try to come back and will actually try and write those up, and you usually post those, correct?
(Aaron) Yes, we do. Exactly.
Audience Question: A member of the audience works in the public space, with lots of volunteer workers, visitors and they feel like they're not prepared for it for a number of different reasons. Their concern is that it's a nightmare waiting to happen. How can they help their officials and managers to understand the threat and start to address it through training and other resources?
Mark Warren: We hear it all the time and I feel the same frustration that they do. Sometimes people just don't listen to the people closest to them. It doesn't mean that they don't have the right information or knowledge. It's just hard because when we work with somebody every single day, we just don't always see them as more than that. That's unfortunate because I think we've got to be moving forward.
Something similar, go back to the OSHA general duty clause that requires workplaces to provide a safe working environment for their employees and in the Hennepin County Minnesota active shooter incident, they were fined by OSHA because they had failed to provide a safe working environment. Not only did they suffer loss of life at that facility. OSHA fined them on top of it. From that standpoint, sometimes it's the employers are kind of in that it will never happen mentality, and the problem is I just don't want to deal with it. Or it could be it's an elephant and how do I eat an elephant? It's one bite at a time but it just seems like a large-scale thing — how do I start this process? Sometimes, when we have a client with that difficulty, I'll be honest if you're willing and you want to reach out to me, I will take time and offer my time to reach out to the appropriate people to at least discuss – no charge – what they need to be looking at and why. I believe in what we do and how we do it that granted we may wind up teaming with them to help them along this journey, so it doesn't have to be the daunting task that they're afraid it is.
One of the things too, when you have an organization like they're describing – a lot of volunteers which means a lot of turnovers, so it's a constant evolution of training and everything else. That does become a problem. But most of the time, there are some very simple measures that can be put in place to increase the overall security of the facility without overriding the cultural feel. We're sensitive to that and don't want to override the culture and make it something that's not a prison. We want to be able to put things in place that are common sense easy, cost-effective, but still has a long-term effect on the overall security. If that person would — please, my cell phone number is there, feel free to call me or email me and we can discuss more in depth and I'll try to guide you as much as I possibly can to give you more ideas to continue to approach your managers on that.
Audience Question: Before we even start the webinar, you emphasized to me the importance of community response. To that point and to the points that you made later on in your presentation, how can we contribute to the efforts of local school systems to transition from a drill mentality to a training mindset?
Mark Warren: It's got to start with knowledge. Most people do not understand the difference. When parents call the school saying, "What's your plan if this happens?". Most of the time they won't discuss plans, they don't want to go into the tactical operations side of things — is what they say. They say, "We have drills all the time". A drill is like a fire drill. It does some good, but you're not actually seeing the response. What we want to do is test the response.
I would say to those people or to the communities… one — get more involved in school board meetings, be there to voice your opinions. Don't let the principal be the filter because that may be the person that's closing the door and holding it closed to progress because "it's not going to happen here". I see principals all the time at schools that still have that mentality, and it's frustrating because it's like, "How can you say it won't happen here?" But at the same time, when it comes to the community, that extends even into the workplace.
Think of it like this if you're a parent of a child. One — read the student manual that the school sent home with your child. Read it, front to back, because it's going to tell you a lot of the information that you need to know that you might not have known was there. Read the manual, don't just read the back page, sign it and give it back to your child to take it back. That's where they tell you the reporting information – how to report threat, who you contact, when you contact… all those different things. From a workplace environment, when you look at it from the peers, you have the employees, but you also have family members. What are we doing to educate the family members on what we're doing in the workplace to keep their loved ones safe?
See, it's all about confidence from that standpoint. If the loved one believes that this school is prepared and ready to take care of my child. I can now be a little more patient to understand why they told me not to go to the school. I need to wait to hear from them to go to the reunification point but because I have trust in them, I'm more likely to follow those recommendations.
It's no different with that spouse of an employee. That employee, anytime they're married or have someone else in their lives, that person is connected to that organization. So how do we get them involved? If they now know open lines of communication, maybe they are seeing the difficulties with their loved ones that are going and exhibiting behaviors that are concerning, they don't know who to talk to – they're embarrassed. But if they know I can go to HR and I can say, "Listen, this is my husband, this is what I'm concerned about, this is what I'm seeing him doing, are you seeing anything at work?". Then maybe we have opened the door a little bit to deal with some of the stuff like we're talking about now in our society. It's not just one way or the other, it's all of the stuff in the middle that we're not discussing that could be some of the easiest solutions that we could do in these types of problems that we're not.
Aaron: You emphasized that the solution is a community solution. There is no silver bullet and the answer comes from talking through each other and trying to work through these issues in a methodical way.
Click Here to View a Recording of Mark Warren's presentation, Effective Response – the Value of Time During an Intruder Response Incident.