Risk Management |
Article by Michael Dorn, Safe Havens International
From the January/February 2021 Net Assets magazine
Commercial active shooter response programs as well as Run, Hide, Fight, which was developed by the U.S. government, have become popular with independent schools in recent years. It has become evident, however, that in multiple school attacks, these training approaches have resulted in what can only be described as tragic failures that have increased rather than decreased casualties.
These approaches have also resulted in unprecedented workers’ compensation expenses from training injuries. And more than 150 civil actions and letters of intent to sue have been filed following shootings at schools where these training approaches proved to be ineffective or deadly. Our nation’s second most deadly school shooting occurred in a school district that used the Run, Hide, Fight approach. While the U.S. Department of Education has reversed course and no longer advises schools to use Run, Hide, Fight, many schools are still using it.
Here’s another example from a time I served as an expert witness in a series of civil actions resulting from an active assailant case. A school district and the sheriff’s department had provided commercial active shooter response training for students and staff. Security camera footage and other evidence convinced expert witnesses retained by both plaintiff and defense counsel that the highly popular training program resulted in what I can only describe as total and catastrophic failure. The vendor who provided instructor training to the sheriff’s department routinely uses provably false information to market their training, but this did not provide any protection for the defendants in this litigation. The district and sheriff’s department recently agreed to settle all five circuit and federal court civil actions for substantial amounts.
In addition to what I have observed providing official post-incident assistance for 20 major K-12 school shootings in three different countries as well as analyzing thousands of video and audio school crisis simulations, my comments are informed by my involvement in developing a 600-page university textbook on extreme violence, which has taken three years of research and writing by a team of 11 subject matter experts. Due for release in January, “Extreme Violence — Understanding and Protecting People from Active Assailants, Hate Crimes, and Terrorist Attacks” will be available from Cognella.
You can also find more information on this topic in the article “Put Training to the Test in Security Management Magazine” (Safe Havens International, 2018).
Unlike public schools, independent schools lack the liability protection provided by tort limits and qualified governmental immunity that many states provide for government entities. The types of spine injuries, broken bones, permanent nerve damage, and concussions that have resulted from some of these training programs can also result in major settlements and jury awards in suits against independent schools, especially if students are injured in the training.
With this background in mind, the following are among the most concerning observations regarding “multi-option” active shooter training programs:
The following approaches can help reduce — but will not eliminate — the chances that serious injury, death, workers’ compensation claims, and lawsuits will occur due to active assailant training:
Safety & Security: The Hidden Costs of School Safety (May/June 2020)
Dangers of Active-Shooter Training Programs (Sept/Oct 2018)
From Fear to Empowerment: Changing Active-Shooter Protocols (Nov/Dec 2018)
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