The school shooting in Mississippi at Delta State University that resulted in the death of history professor Ethan Schmidt is another reminder that violence can strike anywhere at anytime. The small town of Cleveland, Mississippi is the last place you'd expect an active shooter situation to force a school into lock down, but that was the same sentiment in places like Sandy Hook, Columbine, and even Blacksburg.
And while the investigation is ongoing and a suspect has yet to be found as of this posting, there are some universal truths about violence we know:
- Violence knows no geographic boundaries.
- It does not discriminate based on population and is not independent of socioeconomic status.
- It is a cancer that can sometimes spring up where we least expect it, and it is surely difficult to eliminate from our existence.
Human history is riddled with it, but I believe there are still hallowed locations that should be untouched by it and immune from it.
- Violence should never be able to encroach on our children's schools, regardless of whether it is student-on-student, student-on-staff, or staff-on-staff aggression.
- It should never rear its head in a care facility where medical staff are sworn to do no harm.
- It should stray far from places of worship where hands should only lift in praise and not victimized surrender.
Perhaps I'm an idealist in this regard, but my guess is many of you feel the same way. We are all fed up with violence and struggling to find a proper response. Some fall on the side of deterrence via overwhelming force or escalated presence. Others prefer to seek out the root cause and treat the problem before violence pours out of affected individuals. Regardless, I have yet to meet someone who believes the status quo is just fine.
You may wonder why I'm writing this on a Enhanced Non-Lethal blog considering the clearly lethal nature of today's school shooting. You may be thinking that a sales pitch for Guardian 8's Pro V2 device is coming. However, let me assure you that I (and we as a company) recognize that an ambush by a gunman is indefensible when you're a teacher, student, or even a news reporter simply doing your job.
None of these people are soldiers. They don't come to work armed. Frankly, they shouldn't have to.
I'm not blogging today to claim that anything would have changed the outcome of the school shooting in Mississippi. I'm simply tired of reading about these incidents.
If you're reading this blog and you're part of a security team at a school, hospital, or other "sensitive" facility, at the very least consider the thought-starters below. Preparedness may be your only strength if violence knocks on the door of your campus or facility someday.
- Conduct a security assessment that extends beyond your campus/facility boundaries.
- Assume your campus/facility is at high risk when designing a security plan.
- Establish clear and simple incident response procedures for your team and other staff.
- Determine whether security personnel should be unarmed, intermediate or armed.
- Train, train, train.
Preparedness can make a difference. You may not be able to save everyone when violence strikes, but your response to its presence can mitigate additional catastrophe.