The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Responding to an Active Shooter: NYPD Recommendations for Building Security Personnel

For one reason or another, or no reason at all, sometimes an individual will bring a gun to a crowded place and start firing. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines this as an "active shooter." According to the DHS, an active shooter is "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area…. [I]n most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims." Each city may have a different set of procedures for how its Police Department responds to such an event. Additionally, they may have varying recommendations on how others, such a building security personnel should respond to an active shooter. The New York Police Department (NYPD) for example asserts that "[b]ecause active shooter attacks are dynamic events, the NYPD cannot put forward a single set of best-practices for private security response to such incidents. However, the NYPD has compiled a list of recommendations for building security personnel to mitigate the risks from active shooter attacks." These recommendations were derived from thorough analysis of 281 active shooter events that have occurred from 1966-2010. It should be noted that unlike the DHS, the NYPD has limited the definition of an active shooter to incidents where the suspect has an intended victim(s) and then attacks other individuals beyond their victim. The following are some of the NYPD's recommendations: "Conduct a realistic security assessment to determine the facility's vulnerability to an active shooter attack." "Identify multiple evacuation routes and practice evacuations under varying conditions; post evacuation routes in conspicuous locations throughout the facility; ensure that evacuation routes account for individuals with special needs and disabilities." "Designate shelter locations with thick walls, solid doors with locks, minimal interior windows, first-aid emergency kits, communication devices, and duress alarms." "Put in place communications infrastructure that allows for facility-wide, real-time messaging." "Train building occupants on response options outlined by the Department of Homeland. Security in 'Active Shooter: How to Respond' when an active shooter is in the vicinity." "Train building occupants on how to respond when law enforcement arrives on scene." To read the entire report and full list of recommendations click here.