In today’s world, no business or organization is immune from violence. Whether it is a church, movie theater, mall, or doctor’s office, the need to plan for an active shooter event is of the utmost importance. The incident rate of workplace violence is a problem that is significantly under reported, but affects thousands of workers across the country. From verbal and physical assaults on staff to shootings, acts of violence are occurring at an alarming rate around the globe.


Most businesses and schools are teaching the same method of defense that we have used since World War II: duck and cover. This defense was, quite frankly, a “feel good” exercise taught to children so that they felt safe during an atomic bomb explosion. We now know, after decades of research, that although getting under a desk may possibly keep debris from falling on your head, the real danger is the radiation levels from the explosion. These high levels will not only kill people, but can affect future generations as well.


So why am I bringing this up?

“A total of 60% of the incidents ended before police arrived.” - FBI Report: “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013”

Despite what we may want to believe, hiding under desks and tables hasn’t lowered casualty numbers in any active shooter event. A comprehensive study conducted by the FBI, A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013, found here proves this.

Some quick points from this study:

  • More than half of the incidents—90 shootings—ended on the shooter’s initiative (i.e., suicide, fleeing), while 21 incidents ended after unarmed citizens successfully restrained the shooter.
  • In 21 of the 45 incidents where law enforcement had to engage the shooter to end the threat, nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded.
  • The largest percentage of incidents—45.6 percent—took place in a commercial environment (73 incidents), followed by 24.3 percent that took place in an educational environment (39 incidents). The remaining incidents occurred at the other location types specified in the study—open spaces, military and other government properties, residential properties, houses of worship, and health care facilities.
FBI Active shooter graphic1

“Incidents in educational facilities account for some of the higher casualty counts.” - [Pg. 15], Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of Active Shooter Incidents, 2000 - 2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C. 2014.

This was four year ago. How many more incidents have occurred since this was published?


In its 2007 publication, the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance for active shooter response was limited to lockdown. On June 18, 2013, the White House released the “Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans” which can be found here.

The 2013 edition expands the guidance to include multiple options that go beyond lockdown including "Run, Hide or Fight." It also recognizes that staff and students may have to use more than one option and that the decision to do so should be made using their own judgment. These revamped procedures for school safety align and build upon years of emergency planning work by the federal government. This guide incorporates lessons learned from recent incidents, and responds to the needs and concerns voiced by stakeholders following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. This document moves lockdown to a secondary response, after evacuation of the school; making it clear that not every room is suitable for lockdown. Additionally, the guide clearly states that it replaces “Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities” (January 2007).

Agencies Issuing Guidance
  • U.S. Department of Education (DOE)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The federal agencies listed above have spent considerable resources researching active shooting events. Their findings have resulted in a change in guidance - a movement away from the cold war era techniques typically used in a lockdown-only approach. This is in direct opposition to what was once considered a “best practice” - locking down every room.

So why are schools and businesses still using a “lockdown-only” plan?

“As the situation develops, it is possible that students and staff will need to use more than one option.” - [Page 64], Blair, J. Pete, and Schweit, Katherine W. (2014). A Study of Active Shooter Incidents, 2000 - 2013. Texas State University and Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C. 2014.

The truth is that we have been relying on an outdated and ineffective procedure to keep our employees and children safe. I’m sure you’re asking, if it’s so ineffective, why has it been adopted and recommended for so long?


Lt. Joseph Henry Jr., CLEE, is a much-traveled and much-in-demand national instructor for the “ALICE Training Institute” in teaching ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate). In 2009, in response to the Virginia Tech massacre, he was asked to find out exactly where lockdown began. After several years of research, he wrote a comprehensive report detailing what he found. These are just a few quotes from the report:

“Adults in those classrooms had been trained and conditioned since childhood to respond by being quiet, laying on the ground, and not moving when someone was attempting to kill them. Even more disheartening was the rumor that the Virginia Tech gunman had trained to shoot into the ground. It became obvious that he knew where his targets were going to be when he started pulling the trigger.”

“Traditional lockdown was never intended for active shooter events. Lockdown was developed in response to drive-by shootings and street level crime occurring outside of school buildings in southern California in the 1970s. The district had perimeter fencing, the building would be “locked down” and Law Enforcement Officers employed by the school district, who were already within the perimeter, would deal with the incident along with other arriving outside agency officers.”

“Curtains pulled helped prevent outside threats from seeing into the classroom and also prevented glass from flying around the room if shattered by gun fire. Lights off prevented shadows from being cast on the curtains, preventing target acquisition by outside threats. Getting down on the floor away from the windows and door allowed the students and staff to be below the level of rounds coming in a window and used the wall below the windows to provide some cover from incoming bullets. Evacuation was not an option because the threat was already outside.”

“Throughout my search, I have spoken to hundreds of Senior Law Enforcement Officials and School Administrators, The Department of Homeland Security, The Department of Education and have been granted access to the FEMA Lessons Learned Documents…I have had insurance companies query their underwriters for information on lockdown, survivability studies concerning it, or its history.  The answer was always the same. There are no official documents recommending the tactics, no survivability studies, no records concerning its history, and are no records of development by any government agency or private entity.”

His entire report can be found here.

So, what I’m basically saying is that we’ve been using an unproven procedure across the entire country for several decades. Time and time again, this procedure provided the same results, yet we just recently decided to make changes. Despite the highest levels of government clearly stating this procedure does not work, most schools, businesses, and places of worship are still using it. Does that make any sense to you?


ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) is utilized by law enforcement across the country and is in line with recommendations from the DHS, FEMA, FBI, DOJ, DHHS, DOE, along with many state agencies across the U.S.

ALICE training helps prepare individuals to handle the threat of an Active Shooter. ALICE teaches individuals to participate in their own survival, while leading others to safety. Though no one can guarantee success in this type of situation, this new set of skills will greatly increase the odds of survival should anyone face this form of disaster.


Being an ALICE certified organization demonstrates to your stakeholders that you areserious about safety: including the safety of your employees; visitors; and in the cases of schools – our children. The ALICE Certified mark, which is backed by research and years of experience, indicates to your stakeholders that you have gone the extra mile to practice safety training that has been deemed to be critical for increasing chances of survival in today’s violent intruder events.

Red Team Safety and Security has partnered with the ALICE Training Institute to train and certify any organization in multiple-option active shooter response procedures. Based in the Jacksonville, FL area, we can travel anywhere needed to provide this crucial training and ensure you are providing the adequate “Standard of Care” required by law.

Contact us today to set up training for your organization.