In the media aftermath of the horrible shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a news-feed article appeared saying how we now have to ramp up security at night clubs. Why just night clubs?
There is no way to predict where the next shooting, and there will be a next one, is going to take place. There was the Aurora movie theater attack in 2012 and since then we’ve seen attacks occur at retail malls, restaurants, manufacturing plants, governmental agencies, and the list goes on.
Too often, the reaction vis-à-vis security is knee jerk. And it involves putting a band aid on what is unfortunately a deep wound. There is a lot of hoping and praying that it won’t happen here, wherever here is. The last time I went to a movie, a short animated video played before the previews that cautioned the audience to be aware of suspicious behavior and know where the exits are. As the sum total security for that movie venue, it was not very reassuring. It is understandable that theater owners don’t want to scare their audience away. But terrorism wins when we stop going out to clubs and movies. The public will surely accept and endure far more rigorous security measures that may include bag checks, metal detectors and armed guards if it means the threat is mitigated. Wouldn’t you?
Mitigating the threat is not an easy task and there is no fool proof, one size fits all solution. Regardless of a terrorist’s motivation be it ideological or the result of mental illness, completely preventing a lone wolf from acting is near impossible.
G4S got heat for passing Mateen in multiple background checks. But most terrorists do not have a criminal background. Their response to his colleague’s complaints about Mateen’s anger issues and deranged behavior is unclear at this point. But note that the FBI with far more resources than any security company had Mateen under an investigation that included surveillance and in person interviews over the course of 10 months in 2013-2014, and that didn’t go anywhere, either.
There are some tactics worth implementing, right now, dependent on the specific environment being secured. Rather than wait for a perfect solution that doesn’t exist, why not just throw everything we’ve got at the problem? Let’s take a fighting stance. For example, pushing the ring of security out as far as possible so that there are obstacles and contingencies for a would-be attacker to deal with well before they enter the protected environment. Training all personnel in awareness, to know what to look for that is suspicious and giving them tools and clear protocols to use in the event of an attack. Conducting ‘what if?’ drills. Anything that hinders or stalls an attacker is worth implementing, from a taser to pepper spray. Heightened use of K-9s. Conducting bag checks. Using metal detectors. Installing armed guards specifically trained in active shooter tactics. From media reports, the armed officer at the Orlando club may not have been able to bring Mateen down, but surely he facilitated the escape of some that night. The controversial questions around gun control aside, who wants to bring a knife to a gunfight, regardless of how the attacker got a gun?
Our continuing to be reactive is going to result in more tragedy and more frustration. We have to get ahead of our enemies. What ideas would you bring to the table?