By Paula Ratliff
[republished from the ASIS Cultural Properties Council Newsletter, Volume 2, March 2017]
Shelter in Place: A Security Concept That Every American Should Know
“Shelter in Place” is a relatively new concept that is taught by criminologists and law enforcement professionals. It is a precautionary term, aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors and in the area where you are, should you hear gunshots or explosions. While it is advisable, if you are close to an area with few or no windows and you can get there safely, that may be a good option. Otherwise, you need to take cover in the area where you are and wait for the all clear directive to be given by local law enforcement.
School teachers are trained on how to do this in the event of an active shooter. If a teacher hears gun shots and they cannot leave the classroom, they should immediately secure the room by locking and barricading the doors, covering and closing all windows and then securing the children under desks, furniture, book cases, etc. The concept is that you seek immediate shelter with whatever you have available until the “all clear” code has been given or until given instructions by local law enforcement officials. Some classrooms are equipped with an exit door, but exiting the door could be the wrong action and it is best to wait until you know it is safe to exit.
It is unfortunate that we must train school, hospital, church, retail and mall administrators, plant operators and others in crime prevention and safety measures. Yet, it is the reality of the world in which we live. We never know when someone is going to start shooting and the decisions you make in a split second could determine if you survive.
This past summer, I was speaking at a college in Cincinnati, Ohio when I asked the group of students, “What would you do if you heard gun shots?” The response was to look out the door to see where the shots originated. Well, that was a really wrong answer, and one that could get you killed immediately. If there is an active shooter, your head just appeared in their video game and they are taking you out! It is advisable that you do not go looking for an active shooter unless you are armed and ready to engage.
We have all watched in horror the videos of the lone-wolf terrorists, working at and/or with the instruction of ISIS leaders. They are becoming more aggressive in their approaches and will continue to target soft targets. Soft targets are things/areas that are not adequately secured. They find a weak spot in your security program and they target it. It is unfortunate, but we will always be vulnerable as criminals shoot up airports and drive trucks into crowds and enter schools, universities and restaurants. Workplace violence continues to increase and factories and businesses need to be proactive in security training and security perimeters.
If your company and/or business is not training employees on how to Shelter in Place, you need to begin this immediately. Consult your local law enforcement officials or a criminologist to assess your location and devise a plan of action. It is your responsibility to protect those that work for you and the failure to devise a plan could result in legal liability for you and your company.