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Shooting down active shooters

Is your workplace a hard enough target to repel active shooters?

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A little access control goes a long way

Broaching the subject of active shooter vulnerability, James Mankowski immediately mentioned the Aug. 5, 2012 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Located in suburban Milwaukee community of Oak Creek, the Temple’s congregants were arriving for Sunday services when tragedy struck. It was about the last place you’d expect to find a gunman bent on murder. By the time he was taken out, he had killed six people and wounded four others, including a police officer who arrived on the scene.

As a law enforcement officer who has had ALICE training, Mankowski says the take-away from this tragedy is that the congregation, as is its nature, was inviting to anyone who would go there or take a tour. “What this shooter did is scope out the place and know the day he carried out the attack, it was very accessible,” Mankowski says. “He could walk right in and do his thing.”

In other words, even in a place of worship, people can no longer be allowed to just come and go. Mankowski, president of JBM Patrol & Protection Corp., would develop a safety plan for the Temple that emphasizes access control and also includes uniformed armed guards.

Access control is not full proof, but having it sounds like a no-brainer. However, many still don’t for the simple reason that people crave the freedom to come and go, especially during the day, and they don’t want to wear identification badges. “But that’s the way we have to do business today,” Mankowski says. “Unless people harden their access points, and make critical check points and limit who comes and goes, you’re at the mercy of whoever opens the door.”

Hardening the target

As you assess whether your facility is a hard or soft target, one question to ask is whether every single door needs to open from the outside?

“Can you funnel access to one door?” asks Dane County Sheriff’s Deputy Josalyn Longley. “Obviously, they can shoot through glass so they have a way to get in, but you still can react when that’s happening, so that’s why it’s important to have one main location where people come in.”

Security companies try to strike a balance between securing your property without making it feel like a prison. To do so, they must determine the level of engagement you want with your security system, and that level of engagement will be different for different types of buildings and different businesses.

Barrett Smallwood, a security design engineer for Fearing Audio/Video Security, says a complete access control system is one where everything is locked around the perimeter at all times, and employees are funneled to a front door that is accessible to them only at the right times. At that access point, a network video door station would be installed that includes a vestibule between the outside and the inside and dual authentication in which traffic must go through the first door, pass through a metal detector, and go through a second door with a credential.

Metal detectors, he notes, now are on a digital scale where they can trigger alerts and stop the second point of entry if somebody were to have a positive read, but generally there is a security person in front.

This higher level of security has come down in price and typically is available for under $5,000, even though they now feature mobile components and high-resolution cameras with multiple lenses that offer 360-degree views and more detail than ever before.

More basic access control would entail a front door that somebody would either need a key FOB to gain entry or simply get buzzed in via the video door station.

As for your cost calculation, count on a range of $1,000 to $1,500 per door.

Perhaps the best technological advance of recent years, according to David Poley, security project manager for Fearing, is onboard analytics on security cameras. This feature comes with a function that allows the video to smartly search through and immediately scan the time period selected, eliminating hundreds of man-hours of work.

Facilities also can provide notifications with accompanying analytics software. Poley says it’s similar to motion detection, only you’re using video analytics that enable more precision. “If you do have somebody cross a line, or approach the building at an unusual angle, it will notify you either through an app or a popup,” Poley adds, “rather than trying to find out after the fact where this person came from.”

There is also a wireless “panic” button that can be installed at the reception desk or carried on a belt or lanyard. When pressed, it sends a silent alarm to a monitoring company that immediately summons local law enforcement.


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