Keeping Safety and Security Top of Mind

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Active-Shooter Response Has Evolved over Time

By Bill Turner, LPC

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When it comes to active-shooter response, there is no single tactic that guarantees 100 percent positive results for law enforcement and individuals. Methods are still evolving and being debated. But one trend is common: a more aggressive reaction.

One of the most-remembered mass shootings in the second half of the twentieth century was the University of Texas tower shooting on August 1, 1966. On that day, Charles Whitman climbed to the observation deck of the main building, from where he shot and killed fifteen people in an hour and a half. At the time, standard active-shooter response from law enforcement was to have the first officer on scene establish a perimeter to contain the suspect and victim. This approach maximized officer safety and protected the public outside the scene. It also minimized equipment and training costs for law enforcement and allowed time for SWAT to arrive. But these reasonable tactics assumed perpetrators were rational and would negotiate and release hostages.

A lot has changed since then. Today, law enforcement often faces suicidal attackers whose desire is to inflict the maximum number of casualties, including themselves in the death toll. Establishing a perimeter and negotiating is no longer effective in all situations. This was made clear in the Columbine, CO, school shooting of 1999. Police established a perimeter and waited a long time to enter the building and attempt to confront the shooters. Because of this delay, many more students were killed.

After Columbine, law enforcement began to develop more aggressive active-shooter response protocols. First, officers on scene were taught to immediately enter and attempt to engage shooters, using whatever equipment they carried with them. This tactic assumed most attackers were relatively incompetent and could be silenced by a well-trained responder.

Attackers have changed. As a result, modern active-shooter response training has changed—again. Nearly all law enforcement officers are now highly trained for these incidents and have active-shooter “kits” in their patrol cars. Today, many officers will immediately enter an area to confront an active shooter. The theory is that, when confronted with law enforcement, shooters will turn their attention to them and away from victims. These tactics have proven reasonably successful, although the emergence of highly motivated terrorists, whose weapons go way beyond guns, has necessitated continual evolvement of active-shooter response tactics.

Although not universal, some recent guidelines include:

  • Assess the situation and report immediately.
  • Move the public away from the danger zone, if possible.
  • Take cover from gunfire but not cover from view (concealment).
  • Adjust response based on the situation—await heavily armed forces, negotiate, or immediately confront perpetrators.

“OK,” you say, “that is the active-shooter response plan for law enforcement, but what about me?” For individuals, guidelines for active shooter response remain fairly constant:

  • GET OUT—evacuate immediately moving away from gunfire.
  • HIDE OUT—if you can’t evacuate, take immediate cover, hopefully in a locked room. In addition, barricade the door, if possible.
  • TAKE OUT—attack the shooter (with anything you have) if you have no other choice.

Obviously, no one ever wants to be caught in an active-shooter situation. Fortunately, the odds are against it. But understanding active-shooter response tactics and methods, both for law enforcement and individuals, will go a long way to keep you safer, just in case.


Best-Ever IOBSE Conference Hosted at Walmart Headquarters

By Loss Prevention Media Staff

The International Organization of Black Security Executives (IOBSE) held its 2017 annual meeting April 25–27 at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, AR. “This year’s conference was an amazing event and one of the best ever,” said Don Knox, CPP, CITRMS, director of enterprise security, crisis management, and business continuity for Sears Holdings, and current president of the IOBSE. “We wish to thank Walmart for their extraordinary hospitality in hosting this year’s conference.”

The organization’s annual meeting is focused on providing an educational forum for attendees to learn about emerging trends in the security industry as well as offer ample time for networking with peers. Presenters included executives from Gap Inc., Ross Stores, Walmart, Sears, CVS, Tyco, LinkedIn, and The University of Central Florida. Presentation topics included:

  • The new dynamics of threat assessments
  • Building and leading high-performance teams
  • Leading change
  • Active-shooter response and others
Keith White, LPC, of Gap Inc. (left) and Christina White of Ross Stores talked on the topic of “Building, Developing, and Leading High Performance Corporate Loss Prevention and Security Teams.”

Two discussion panels on security convergence and building your professional brand were also enthusiastically received by attendees. Walmart executives on the security convergence panel included Jerry Geisler, Gary Smith, Tom Arigi, and Ken Sensor. Not shown was Anthony Williams also from Walmart, who moderated the panel.

One of the unique aspects of the IOBSE conference is its sponsorship of college students interested in the security industry who attend the conference as guests of the organization. This year, 27 students from universities across the country were among the attendees. The conference concluded with their traditional black-tie dinner where several members were recognized for their contributions to the security industry.
For more information about the IOBSE, visit To learn about the origins of the organization, read LPM’s past feature story, “IOBSE: A Message of Workplace Inclusion and Leading with Purpose.”

Stop Theft by Shoplifting: Two Ways to Influence Potential Offenders

By Mike Giblin, LPRC

The following describes a cornerstone theory of judgment and decision-making that has tremendously important implications in loss prevention. The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) of persuasion, developed by Petty and Cacioppo, postulates a dual-process manner in which decision-makers take in and process information.

Mike Giblin

Bottom line for LP: even if offenders honestly aren’t able to report that they consciously noticed a deterrent designed to stop theft by shoplifting, the presence of one still may have affected their behavior and decision-making processes. Likewise, even if a customer says they didn’t notice or weren’t bothered by an LP measure, it still may affect their shopping experience. Observation of behavioral data (watching outcomes) is superior to first-hand accounts (asking opinions) for this and other reasons.


Understanding the intricacies of the decision process is paramount if one wishes to alter that process. Otherwise, you’re simply inputting changes into a black box and observing each output with no real understanding of how the strings are being pulled, what mechanism is responsible for any changes seen, and/or how to adjust or replicate the changes.

The ELM model is highly regarded as a theory of attitude change and offers valuable insight on how decision-makers take in and process relevant information. It posits two distinct routes to information processing and therefore two routes to influencing decisions.

Peripheral Route

When presented with stimuli, we do an initial sweep and determine what deserves our attention and cognitive resources. Think of a drive home from work that you’ve done so many times that you take it in autopilot, where you’d be unable to tell me any specifics of what you saw on the way home that day.

Another classic example is finding ourselves humming a song and wondering why. We didn’t attend to a song while it played on the radio earlier that day, and if you asked us if we’d heard it that day, we’d say no. That song has been processed through our peripheral route and affected our behavior despite never being centrally or consciously processed.

In the case of LP, offenders may not realize that they’ve seen and been deterred by a loss prevention measure, a clean parking lot, the police officer they saw three blocks from arriving at the store, or any other subtle stimulus. They’re not able to identify these stimuli as having had an effect on them because they were processed through a peripheral route.

This finding is one of the major reasons that the social science and business fields strongly prefer observing behavior to asking about behavior. Asking misses out on this important category of influencers.

Central Route

Central-route processing occurs when a stimulus catches our attention and is determined to be worthy of our cognitive resources. At this point, we’ve noticed the stimulus, and it enters our conscious thoughts. Most anything that you would consider an influencer of decisions has probably entered through the central route.

Offenders are aware of messages received via central-route processing. Everything they tell you affected their decision did so through the central route. This process and subject has been well studied in the LP industry as one significant way to stop theft by shoplifting.


Peripheral-route-processed stimuli are important drivers of decisions and need to receive further attention in the LP world. They’re often the same deterrents or process changes that we’ve put in place and currently believe to have minimal effect on customers or offenders due to lack of expressed feedback from those groups.

Just because a shoplifter reports, and in fact believes, that they didn’t notice or were unaffected by a security measure or incidental environmental factor does not mean it did not affect them. It simply means that it was not processed centrally.

Similarly, just because customers don’t notice and report not being put off by LP does not mean that this is truly the case, even if the customer believes it to be. Measuring behavior is the only reliable way to get the full scope of a treatment’s effect. Sales, shrink, behavioral incidence data of retail theft events, dwell-time data, and conversion data are paramount for research in loss prevention. Video analytics to code and understand behavioral outcomes is a growing and exciting data source.

Effective Threat Assessment and Violence Prevention Strategies

By Garett Seivold

The goal of a retailer’s threat assessment unit or process is to prevent and reduce the incidence of targeted violence by identifying potential perpetrators and managing the risks of violence. To effectively meet that mission, four important elements stick out:

  • Developing criteria that should trigger a threat assessment investigation;
  • Identifying individual(s) within the organization responsible for receiving information and conducting or contracting for threat investigations;
  • Notifying managers and supervisors about the threat assessment program and;
  • Disseminating the trigger criteria to supervisors and managers.

A threat management unit (TMU) will vary in size and complexity depending on the organization, but members

might include legal counsel, security, and threat assessment specialists, managers, and a licensed behavioral psychologist. However, even retail organizations that use outside expertise to conduct threat assessments require internal threat assessment knowledge.

Having skilled personnel at a facility or store is critical for knowing when risk factors or patterns of behavior suggest that an outside expert—or the threat team at corporate headquarters—needs to be called upon to more closely assess a situation and provide recommendations for violence prevention strategies. Plus, there may not be time. Internal personnel need to be sufficiently skilled and confident enough to take action in an acute situation. Retail safety training is a good place to start.

More on

For more original news content, see the following articles:

  • Credit Card Fraud News and Updates
  • Tough Retail Industry News Keeps Coming
  • Poor Handling of a Crisis Can Damage a Company’s Reputation Almost Immediately
  • Finding Effective Violence Prevention Strategies
  • Active Threat Response: Keys to Success
  • How to Handle Workplace Safety Issues Efficiently
  • Maintain a Positive Outlook among Your Loss Prevention Staff
  • How to Detect a Liar: Research on Cultural Differences and Screening Devices
  • Maximizing Value from Retail Store Safety Measures
  • Amateur Shoplifters: Are They Just Plain Crooks, or Are They Sick?
  • Playing the Long Game: Retailers’ Reaction to Shoplifting Today Impacts Crime for Decades
  • Putting the Brakes on Counterfeit Merchandise and Brand Erosion
  • 5 Omni-channel Retailing Examples in 2017

Professional Development

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  • Buyer, Beware: 4 Warning Signs of a Bad Contract Agreement
  • Is Identification the Missing Piece in the War against ORC?
  • How Might Your LP Operation Benefit from Retail’s RFID Revolution


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