The Secret Service knows it. Do you?

In the rush to confront the increasing number of active shooter situations, few seem to be heeding the Service’s suggestion on the best way to keep yourself, students, faculty, and staff safe. They say the best defense is proactive, not reactive.

Preparing for the Worst

On June 18, 2013, Vice President Joe Biden released a series of guidelines for schools, institutions of higher education, and houses of worship “on how to work with first responders and other community partners to plan and prepare for emergencies such as active shooter situations.”

The guidelines were based on the results of U.S. Secret Service and FBI reports on the increasing prevalence of gun violence in educational settings. They included, among other things, suggestions for how staff, students, and faculty members could increase their chances of survival in the event of an active shooting situation.

To that end, they talked about expanded first aid training, preparing 911 notification plans, and instituting or expanding effective lockdown and evacuation procedures.

The guidelines immediately gave rise to a variety of teacher training programs such as ALICE, FASTER, and Armed Teachers. There are differences in the programs. Some focused on alert, lockdown, and evacuation procedures. Some included handgun training for teachers who might carry weapons in their classrooms.

But what they all have in common is that they are re-active, not proactive. They all train people in what to do after bullets start to fly. By then, it’s extremely likely that someone, or several someones, have been shot.

A Better Way

That’s exactly why the Secret Service, and the vice president’s guidelines, emphasize the value of identifying a potential threat and acting BEFORE the shooting begins. They found:

  • Incidents of targeted violence at school are rarely sudden, impulsive acts.
  • Prior to most incidents, other people knew about the attacker’s idea and/or the plan to attack.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball. It takes training. The Marine Combat Hunter program uses a system they call “left of bang.” It involves being alert for observable human behaviors, so that threats can be identified and neutralized BEFORE they surge into violence.

With years of experience providing security, training, and close protection services in the front lines of some of the world’s most dangerous and hostile environments, Grey International has developed a similarly effective proactive system for complex urban environments such as schools and universities.

The Power of DTRD

Called Dynamic Threat Recognition & Decision-making, or DTRD for short, it’s based on the same scientifically proven methods employed by the military. It involves different behavioral assessments that form the pillars of observable behavior.

We teach it in relation to recognizing threats and identifying people with criminal intent, whether that’s a result of mental instability, gang or other group affiliation, or intentional terrorism.

Anyone can learn it. And, as the Secret Service knows, anyone who does, can stay safe. Because prevention is always better than cure.