Preparing and Responding to the Growing Threat of Active Assailant Attacks

November 2, 2020

Security experts warn that the upcoming U.S. presidential election could trigger renewed civil unrest based off the following variables:

  • U.S. conflict and violence rates have risen substantially in 2020
  • According to the FBI, there’s been an increase in:
    • gun sales and the sale of ghost gun parts used to build untraceable firearms
    • Domestic violence and child abuse
    • COVID-19 related hoaxes; and some business interruption
    • Homegrown terror
    • COVID-19 related crimes; people being hurt and sometimes killed as a result of social distancing or a lack thereof

Retailers and businesses should consider strategies to help them protect their property and employees as both active assailant statistics rise and political and societal pressures increase.

While predicting when a violent attack will occur is challenging, businesses can take steps before and after an incident to reduce risk, mitigate damage, and speed up recovery for the injured, as well as business operations.

Which Industries Are Most Susceptible?
In 220 incidents that occurred from 2000 to 2016, nearly half (107) took place in an education, retail, or government/military setting. The remainder occurred in a variety of locations in a number of industries.

Health care facilities often have large, vulnerable patient populations of varying ages and abilities to move quickly. Hospitals and clinics tend to have multiple entry and exit points, which makes security even more difficult.

Other frequent targets of active shooters include shopping malls, residential and office buildings, hotels, airports, and college and university campuses.

Although these industries are most susceptible, a violent attack or incident could occur anywhere.

What Can You Do to Prevent an Attack?
While there is no known way to entirely eliminate or avoid a violent attack, similar to many other risk exposures, there are a wide range of effective mitigating tools businesses can use.  These methods generally fall into three categories: engineering, technological and administrative controls.

Engineering Controls can create a barrier between the employee, guest or customer and the hazard. Some examples include:

  • Identifying lockable doors with a lock icon to provide quick access.
  • Restricting facility access from the outside, especially after dark.
  • Identifying two exit routes in every building and creating better escape routes.
  • Issuing ID badges (minimal personal information) to employees and visitor passes to guests.
  • Installing panic alarms where employees encounter the public.

Technological Controls utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) allow organizations 24/7 disruption of new and emerging threats.  Some examples include:

  • AI-integrated CCTV with weapons detection and crowd tracking capabilities
  • AI-driven internal communications threat tracking software that tracks toxic communication amongst employees in real-time, allowing for immediate intervention regardless of employee location; even if employees are working from home (WFH)

Administrative Controls are practices, rules, policies, regulations, laws and training that reduce the likelihood for violence. For example:

  • Record assaults, verbal abuses and “near misses” to learn how to prevent similar incidents from recurring.
  • Provide security escorts to parking areas for employees who work late at night or early in the morning. Install bright, effective lighting.
  • Provide web-based training in defusing violent situations, self-defense, escape routes and procedures to follow when violence occurs, active shooter, situational awareness, behavioral indicators of conflict and violence and enterprise travel safety.

In addition to these proactive steps, proprietary active assailant insurance coverage is available to provide protection from the unpredictable threat of a deliberate and malicious attack. The product provides coverage for legal expenses, physical damage, business interruption, response fees, as well as a number of other expenses relating to the care and recovery of both victims and the business operation. Additional services are available to help organizations train, prepare, and respond to threats specific to their location and facilities.

Regardless of industry, the threat of active assailant attacks continues to rise. It’s important to work with your broker to enhance safeguards and consider additional coverage to protect your business and employees.

To read more about our proprietary solution for active assailant coverage, click here  For guidance on establishing incident response protocols and prioritizing response actions, click here 

Contact your local MMA representative to discuss in further detail.