Workplace Violence & Active Shooter Guidelines

Risk Solutions

Workplace Violence & Active Shooter Guidelines

Active Shooter Events

Since 2000, over 333 active shooter events have occurred in the U.S. Although a slight decrease in active shooter events was recorded in 2022, the number of people shot (killed/wounded) continues to trend upward.

Immediate deployment of law enforcement is essential to interrupting the shooter and mitigating harm to victims. Developing and practicing an active shooter emergency plan can further lessen the probability of harm until law enforcement arrives. Average police response time to an active shooter event is approximately fifteen minutes (according to the National Sheriffs’ Association). Police response time includes:

  • First sign of danger to 9-1-1 call: 2 – 3 minutes
  • Time for 9-1-1 dispatcher to confirm information from caller: 1 – 2 minutes
  • Officer response time to scene: 10 minutes
  • Officer in door: 1 – 2 minutes

If a shot is fired every 4-15 seconds with a 50-70% hit rate, the assailant can achieve a high number of casualties before law enforcement arrives. Employers must prepare workers to react and respond to the event with strategies to help protect themselves and others for those minutes until law enforcement can enter the scene.

Employers should develop and encourage communication channels for employees to report potential aggressive domestic situations that could involve the workplace. Employers should also consider implementing a high-risk termination process and plan to anticipate and mitigate violent outbursts and attacks related to involuntary termination of employment.

Pre-Emptive Plan

Pre-Emptive Identification Techniques

Individuals may display indicators of potentially violent behavior over time. If these behaviors are recognized, they can often be managed and treated. Potentially violent behaviors by an employee may include one or more of the following:

  • Increased and/or severe mood swings
  • Uncharacteristically emotional responses (crying, sulking or temper outbursts)
  • Increasingly talks of personal stress (marriage, child custody, financial problems, etc.)
  • Social isolation
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism or tardiness
  • Increasing or escalating work performance issues
  • Noticeable decrease in attention to personal appearance and hygiene
  • Becoming argumentative or unreasonable
  • Exhibits paranoia concerning co-workers and others
  • Increased distraction or nervousness
  • Increased complaints of unfair treatment at work and/or complaints about boss/company
  • Increased addiction behaviors – alcohol/drugs/ obsessive romance
  • Verbal or written threats (direct or veiled)

Recognition of one or more of these indicators should trigger referral to your organization’s Human Resource department or other professionals for action to help avert a potentially hazardous situation.

While most active shooter events involve a perpetrator with a professional or domestic relationship to one or more of the victims, active shooter risk is not limited to current or former employees. Analysis of active shooter data published by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Counterterrorism Bureau shows that approximately 1 of 4 active shooter events is attributed to a shooter with no prior relationship to any of the victims, indicating that attacks can occur without prior altercation or grievance.

Organizations should perform a realistic and comprehensive risk assessment to help determine and identify vulnerabilities of the organization and individual facilities to an active shooter event.

Risk Solutions Team