The following was written by Titan’s VP of Operations, Mark Kexel for BOMA/Chicago.
Having up-to-date resources at your fingertips and strategic planning are critical to effectively responding to building threats, according to Lieutenant Mark Marianovich of the Chicago Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT). A featured speaker at a recent BOMA/Chicago Open Security Emergency Preparedness Meeting, Lieutenant Marianovich outlined how the Chicago Police Department interacts with and supports building representatives during crisis situations from start to finish.
Upon initial arrival at the scene, the first responding officer will need to gain immediate access to the security officer and building engineer to assess the situation and negotiate the building. In addition to obtaining information including subject description, type of weapon, backpacks or other bags in the subject’s possession, the officer will also need passcards or keys, up-to-date floor-plans and access to building radio communications and camera displays to monitor the search if possible.
The Search Begins
Once the second responding officer arrives, the search for the offender begins and the police take over the scene. Building representatives should be prepared to recall elevators and lockdown the building and everyone in the building should listen to and follow instructions, in addition to providing any information requested. Tenants may even be treated as suspects – which may include a pat-down – until the offender is identified.
While the average length of an active shooter is six to eight minutes, the amount of time to conclude search and rescue is closer to six hours. During that time, identifying and stopping the perpetrator is the absolute first priority, and next is providing aid to the injured. Even after the subject is taken into custody, the police will maintain control of the building for some time as all occupants must be located, identified and accounted for.
In addition to ensuring the most recent floor-plans are on-site and accessible by the security officer or building engineer, every building should develop a plan to handle what may seem to some as an unthinkable situation.
When developing the plan, consider ways to educate tenants about appropriate responses to threats in addition to police search and rescue. Lieutenant Marianovich urged everyone to follow the “Run, hide, fight” principle, emphasizing that offenders in these situations have only one intention – to kill or harm. If you can escape the scene safely, do so. If hiding is the best option, blocking entrances can discourage the offender from entering. Tenants should also find articles that can be used for defense purposes if necessary. Since tenants can be wary in this type of situation to open a door for anyone, they should also learn to verify police identity during search and rescue efforts by asking for identification or calling 911. The Police may issue an “all clear” using the building’s public address system as well, so be sure to listen to announcements or updates.
Building management should also consider developing pre-scripted announcements to tenants and set policies for their use. Management should also make every effort to alert and provide direction to tenants during crisis situations via some sort of mass communication system. Regarding use of the public address system, there’s a chance the offender may not even hear the message, and as Lieutenant Marianovich pointed out – the offender already knows of his/her arrival, why shouldn’t the tenants?
Other key components to consider in a response plan include tenant floor/office infrastructure (including glass doors, open office settings, etc), availability of cameras to view and the ability to recall elevators.