Major Manufacturer Suffers the ‘Unthinkable’- But Averts Tragedy with a Trained-and- Ready Security Force
The most important security preparations are the ones you hope to never need. Readiness that goes untapped, hopefully for years, but which—when it’s called upon—makes the difference between life and death. So it was for a leading industrial tool and household hardware manufacturer one summer day in 2016 at a facility in Tennessee.
Shortly before 10 AM, company managers were escorting a fired temporary worker to the employee parking lot. Security Officers from U.S. Security Associates (USA), recognizing that his agitation and charged comments posed a potential danger, immediately contacted law enforcement, which arrived at the site within 5 minutes.
Before police could get there, however, the worker exploded—pulling out a knife and slashing car tires. The USA Officers immediately took control, instructing all personnel to take cover and directing them to the closest safe areas while the ex-worker rampaged and made his way to his truck to grab a rifle. As he began firing rounds in the parking lot and toward the plant, the Officers remained composed: staying in constant contact with responding authorities, alerting the company’s HR office inside the plant of the active shooter situation outside, and communicating and coordinating the need for additional support from USA’s nearby branch office.
After firing more than 100 rounds, the ex-worker fled on foot into a nearby field, where responding police officers captured him. In all, the event was not unlike most rampage shootings by a disgruntled ex-worker that makes the evening news. Except that in this case—due in part to the quick, assured actions of USA officers—there were no fatalities. Indeed, while the company psyche was certainly shaken, not a single employee was physically injured.
Ready When It Matters
Prevention is the primary goal of any company’s effort to prevent workplace violence. Many firms take myriad actions to support that mission, such as establishing hiring criteria and conducting pre-employment screening, or investing in access control and surveillance cameras. But as evidenced by the sheer number of active shooter events, prevention is not foolproof. Events do—and will—happen.
When they do, it’s the ability of security personnel to respond quickly and appropriately that makes the difference. It is the skill of Security Officers to intercede and manage an unfolding violent event that gives a company’s its very last opportunity to prevent tragedy.
Which is why USA continues investing so heavily in training—and re-training—its security officers to respond to threats and acts of violence. “As a company, we strongly believe in the value of being proactive in the face of these ongoing threats,” explains a senior leader at USA.
Every USA professional completes a wide-ranging curriculum as part of his or her basic Security Officer training, which includes training and refresher training on the most current and effective protocols for Active Shooter Response. Additionally, Officers undergo training in client-specific active shooter training modules, so they are particularly primed to manage the type of incident they are most likely to face, and do so in accordance with client requirements. In all cases, Security Officers demonstrate proficiency before graduating from training courses.
The techniques that Officers use to manage aggression vary. They depend on whether the source is an unstable patient or a disgruntled customer and whether the cause is a long wait time, bad news, or intoxication. So in addition to comprehensive training in de-escalation techniques and conflict resolution, Officers receive extensive instruction on how to perform specific tasks that often result in aggression, such as how to deftly take away individuals’ “rights,” such as stopping an individual from smoking or entering restricted areas; how to manage large groups of people; and how to work directly with volatile people, especially individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In addition to formal training, the threat is kept top-of- mind during routine supervisory assessments of Officer readiness. By periodically quizzing USA Officers on possible violent scenarios and how they would react, response protocols are continually reinforced. With the addition of mandatory re-training, USA Officers are able to maintain focus and calm as crisis spirals around them.
People Make the Difference
In a national survey of 307 security executives, security personnel was identified as the number one ranked security measure for addressing workplace violence. Security Officers were ranked ahead of all other tools, like pre-hire screening, policies and procedures, and technology. After all, cameras can benefit site security but they can’t squash a crisis in progress. Only trained staff can calm conflicts with effective early-incident intervention.
The threat of mass shootings is one reason why security personnel have taken center stage in the fight against workplace violence. Security Officers provide the best chance to prevent or mitigate shootings—both in public spaces where controlling access is often impossible and by employees who possess legitimate access.
You can’t put a price tag on the value of saving an employee’s life, but there are some numbers to consider.
• Every day, there are an estimated 43,800 acts of harassment, bullying, and other threatening behavior in the workplace, and
approximately 16,400 specific workplace threats of violence.
• More than 12 percent of employers are named in a lawsuit arising from an incident of workplace violence every year.
• The average out-of- court settlement in workplace homicide cases is $500,000, the average jury verdict is $3 million, and soft
costs—attorney fees, insurance increases, turnover, lost sales, reputational harm, and so on—can be incalculable.
There is no sure-fire way to escape such drastic consequences. However, by deploying appropriately trained Security Officers, primed to respond to crisis, a company gives itself the best chance possible to prevent an incident involving an armed individual from turning deadly.
U.S. Security Associates (USA) is the market-leading, wholly-owned American, full-service safety and security solutions provider. With over 160 locally-responsive offices, international locations and over 50,000 dedicated professionals, they offer the most complete array of physical security, remote surveillance, and global consulting and investigations to ensure better outcomes for thousands of clients and a range of industries. Innovative applications of leading-edge, proprietary technology enable USA to rank annually among the world’s best training companies, sustain the highest standards of quality, and underscore world-class customer service with unparalleled accountability. USA’s rise as one of the largest innovative security solutions leaders is a natural byproduct of these differentiators and enable the company to provide the most Safe. Secure. Friendly. ® environments for people, assets, and brands.