By Matthew Harwood02/01/2011 - The New York Police Department has released recommendations to their private sector security and counterterrorism partners on mitigating the risks associated with active-shooter incidents.
The catalyst for the report, according to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was the violent phenomenon's constant recurrence.
"After the Virginia Tech shooting and Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Police Department undertook a statistical analysis of active shooter incidents from 1966 to 2011. Its results are compiled in this report," he said in a statement.
The report was released nearly two weeks after suspect Jared Loughner allegedly shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in the head during an attack that killed 6 and wounded 12 others in Tucson, Arizona. Loughner has since pled not guilty to three federal charges of attempted murder.
The report's recommendations (.pdf), released during an NYPD SHIELD conference, fall into three categories: procedures, systems, and training.
According to the NYPD, some of procedures building security managers should conduct include identifying multiple evacuation routes and practicing them under different conditions, establishing shelter locations for people to hide out in, and choosing a point-of-contact for police to work with in event of an attack.
The buildings themselves should also be outfitted with credential-based access control systems, CCTV coverage, multiple real-time communication options, and elevators that can be controlled or locked down through a central command.
Building security personnel should also train its occupants in active-shooter survival methods, outlined by this Department of Homeland Security document (.pdf). According to DHS, occupants have only three choices during an active-shooter incident: evacuate, hide, or fight back.
Occupants who survived the attack also need to know how to deal with police, especially if the attacker is still on the rampage. The report recommends that building occupants confronted by police know the drill: "follow all official instructions, remain calm, keep hands empty and visible at all times, and avoid making sudden or alarming movements."
The recommendations were developed for building security personnel after the NYPD analyzed 281 active shooter incidents, spanning almost half a century.
Unlike the Department of Homeland Security, which defines an active shooter as using a firearm in an act of violence that has "no pattern or method to their selection of victims," the NYPD uses a more limited definition. According to the report, the NYPD defines an active shooter situation as "only those cases that spill beyond an intended victim to others." For instance, a gunman who targets his boss but then lashes out at the rest of the workplace.
The report also statistically analyzed the nearly 300 incidents to identify any trends. The analysis found that most active shooters are male, carry out their attacks alone, and typically target their schools or their workplaces, depending on their age. The typical attack, according to the NYPD, kills a median of two people and also wounds a median of two people. The report notes that using the median in these attacks is more appropriate than the mean, because a small amount of active shooter attacks have ended in disproportionate casualties.