How to Develop An Active Shooter Prevention and Response Plan


An active shooter can strike at any type of business. Here’s a step-by-step guide for developing a proactive prevention and response plan for your company.

Active shooter

Workplaces and public spaces can be active shooter targets. In fact, the statistics are staggering. The Federal Bureau of Investigation identified 213 active shooter events from 2000 to 2016.

So, how to do you develop a sound, effective plan should your company be targeted? Preparedness saves lives. Read on to learn more about creating a workplace safety plan for the well-being of your employees, customers, and guests.

Establish an Active Shooter Prevention and Response Plan

Creating a prevention and response plan is a huge step toward ensuring the safety of those at your company. An effective plan should detail menacing behavior. And it should draw attention to it before it escalates into a serious altercation.

Of course, no one can predict the future. Exceptions do happen. But it’s always best to respond to troubling, aggressive behavior immediately…before it descends into overt bodily harm. That way, you stand a chance of preventing the event altogether.

Your prevention and response plan should address inappropriate behaviors. It should educate employees about the warning signs of violence. It should spell out when employees need to report problems and concerns.

Plus, it should include guidelines for employee conduct in a variety of violent situations. In an active shooter situation, emotions run high.

So, preparing employees as much as possible beforehand will help them survive. It may also help them neutralize the situation more quickly.

Do a Safety Survey

You’re in the first stages of addressing workplace violence. Where to start? Do a safety survey of your company’s workspace.

Ask the following questions:

  • Can doors be locked from the inside?

  • Can curtains or blinds be used to obstruct an active shooter’s view inside?

  • Are first aid kits readily available?

  • Where can employees run for cover?

  • Are phones accessible for contacting local law enforcement?

Based on the answers to these questions, invest in making your workplace safer. Little changes can go a long way toward obstructing an active shooter. And every second counts.

This is also an important time to assess your current security measures and force. Do you have enough security guards to handle an escalating situation?

If not, hire more. Investing in the safety of your employees and your workplace is key… before trouble shows up.

Organize a Threat Management Team

Your prevention and response plan should lay out consistent procedures for when violence escalates. The best way to do this? Establish criteria for threat assessment.

In conjunction with the creation of these criteria, assemble a threat management team. Their job will be to understand and evaluate potential workplace conflicts. They’ll address and assess risks based on your prevention and response plan and threat criteria.

Who should be on a threat management team? Its membership should reflect your company’s organizational structure and key players.

Likely candidates include:

  • a representative from Human Resources

  • a supervisor from your security force

  • a representative from law enforcement

  • a member of your company’s legal staff

Once you’ve assembled a team of stakeholders, it’s time to dive into workplace violence protection development.

Functions of Your Threat Management Team

Your threat management team will create a contingency plan and discuss possible threats. They should also create, schedule, and implement regular practice drills. That way, the policies and criteria that you implement will be clear to employees.

Once you’ve drafted and approved a contingency plan, the work doesn’t stop there. Schedule regular meetings of your threat management team. During meetings, discuss:

  • relevant current events

  • potential safety risks

  • law enforcement policy changes

  • any other factors that could affect preparedness

Your prevention and response plan and risk assessment criteria represent working documents. They’ll require regular revisions, reinforcement, and updates. Communicate all of these changes to employees on a consistent basis.

Regular workplace safety drills will help you instill these policies into your employees. After all, emergency situations are stressful. Individuals may act reflexively, in ways they can’t anticipate.

Emotions such as fear, panic, and hysteria may seize them. But drills will help employees remain calm and effective when it matters most.

Save Lives

The number one goal of any workplace violence prevention measure is simple: to save lives. It is of the utmost importance to your guests, customers, and employees. One essential aspect of an effective plan is keeping the lines of clear communication open.

Make sure employees know:

  • how and where to contact law enforcement (if they don’t have their cell phone with them)

  • where first aid kits are located

  • how to administer care to those who may be injured or in shock

  • when to run, hide, or fight back (and how to do so)

When the worst happens, panic and misinformation can turn a bad situation into a lethal one. So, educate your employees about various active shooter scenarios. Communicate with them about how they should respond.

Put the Right Supports in Place

Put a support system in place for employees dealing with the immediate aftermath of trauma. They’ll need a trusted professional to speak with.

This professional will guide them through trauma and grief therapy. So set aside resources for grief counseling.

Finally, you’ll want to have measures in place for the respectful care of the deceased. You’ll also want to provide support for their loved ones and family members.

Grief counseling extends beyond the workplace to the community. So, make sure you have measures in place to fully support your employees’ families.

Consider Long-Term Consequences

It’s easy to focus primarily on a violent workplace scenario. But it’s also important to explore potential long-term fallout. You’ll need to develop a plan for resuming critical business functions in the wake of tragedy.

Creating a plan that allows employees to work remotely as needed is also important. Explore how your company can provide additional assistance to employees after a traumatic event.

Finally, you’ll want to explore any gaps in your insurance programs. If you find any, figure out how to fill them.

Next Steps

Active shooter scenarios can happen anywhere to anybody. Don’t assume that your workplace is immune. Invest in a prevention and response plan, criteria, and organizational structures. That way, your company can act quickly and decisively to save lives.

Your number one priority? Providing employees with the resources and training they need to respond to a violent situation. Contact us for more information on how we can help your company prepare.