I was recently asked to consult with a school on security matters. This included evaluating current security protocols as well as suggesting new ones. The night ended with a dinner and brief speech to a group of dads. I consider this to be a huge responsibility and honor at the same time.
One of the questions brought up was regarding an armed response, an armed uniformed security officer. My response was why?
My response was more geared around the idea of why an armed uniformed security presence and why not someone trained who carried concealed. While some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking that will never happen, don’t be fooled into thinking that every school is filled with drooling liberals hell bent on zero tolerance. It may surprise you to know there is a growing trend to arm more individuals on school grounds.
Hopefully more school administrators will recognized that physical security is a half measure at best. You can outfit your facilities with high tech security cameras, card key access points and other measures, but they will only go so far. We divide critical incidents into three categories; indirect, direct and terrorist. Indirect would be targets of opportunity, a crime of passion. Direct would be actions directed at a specific person or group and terrorist would be actions designed with the intention to terrorize a community, organization or nation.
Your physical measures will deter and I use that word loosely the indirect threat to a certain degree, but directed and terrorist not so much. Those two have one thing in common and that is planning. The bad guys have planned their action more deliberately so if your physical security measures are visible they can be defeated.
One of the best security measure is one built around multiple layers. One such layer would be an active armed response, preferable a coordinated response on top of your physical security measures. So, when it comes to an armed uniformed security officer versus someone who is carrying concealed it will be more effective not to put all your cards on the table.
In most cases when the suspects are confronted with an armed response it changes their plans. When death or injury enter the picture for them, they loose some of their will to do bad things. If you were concerned about a directed attack this methodology will provide you the greatest chance of reducing the casualties or preventing the event all together. However, there is one hitch and that is the bad guy has to be confronted. If the lone armed individual is on the other side of the facility it may make it difficult to be effective. Which is why we encourage multiple armed individuals.
Now that you have multiple armed individuals through out the facility who are all concealed the bad guys will have little knowledge both in advance at during. If they have the slightest chance of knowing their is an armed response by being concealed they will have to assume everyone is armed. That has a nasty way of affecting their planning in a directed attack and at some point the directed attack looses it’s luster and a softer target looks more appealing.
If you are concerned about a terrorist attack having multiple armed individuals concealed who have planned and coordinate a defensive strategy is your best measure for saving as many lives as possible. Make no mistake, if they choose your facility they chose it for a reason. Having multiple armed individuals is still no guarantee you will save everyone, but it does guarantee you a fighting chance.