SEC on WZZM after Las Vegas Massacre

SEC’s Jason Russell recently conducted active shooter training with schools in the Mandalay Bay Area. Russell spoke with WZZM in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings.

Read and watch the full story here:

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/nation/former-secret-service-agent-breaks-down-vegas-mass-shooting/480455911

SEC ON WOOD TV 8: “Have a Plan if Something Goes Wrong”

In the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas, SEC’s CEO Jason Russell spoke to Wood TV8 in Michigan about being prepared.

“It’s about having a plan if something goes wrong. We tell people in a situation where you’re being shot at, you need to look for two things: cover or concealment.”

Read and watch the full interview here: http://woodtv.com/2017/10/02/ex-federal-agent-have-a-plan-if-something-goes-wrong/

Talking to Kids About Violence

Processing events such as the attack Las Vegas that killed over 50 and injured hundreds more including many child victims is hard enough for adults.

It is even more challenging for children, who are often absorbing the same information as the adults in their lives but don’t have the context on how to react.

The key for children in any of these situations is reassuring them about the safety and protection they do have in the world while acknowledging their very understandable feelings.

Keep in mind that they are picking up information through the media and other sources, not just family. Children who become fearful of what could happen to them or their parents tend to internalize those feelings.

Here are some approaches you can take when addressing your child’s fear, anxiety or questions:
• Be careful not to invalidate your kids’ feelings by ignoring them or playing down what they are saying. Listen to them.
• Reassure them that there are many people protecting them, including their parents and police officers, to make sure bad things don’t happen to them.
• Consider limiting as much as possible your children’s exposure to media reports.

Also, you cannot discount how your reaction as an adult to tragedies such as these affects your child.

Adults feeling anxiety over attacks – especially in this case, an apparent ambush – can tend to make overarching statements such as, “you can’t go out in public” or “you can’t go anywhere.”

Those statements often can solidify your children’s own fears, so it pays to be careful about how you characterize your fears in front of the kids.

In many ways, what it comes down to is that kids will take their cues from their parents and caregivers. Remember that your words carry weight with children, so reassuring statements will have impact. And remind yourself that our children are watching, and that how we act can affect their reaction.

SEC on the Congressional Baseball Practice Shooting

SEC CEO Jason Russell spoke with WOOD TV 8 about Wednesday’s shooting at the congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA.

““I can promise you they’re going to re-evaluate, especially when they have large numbers of congressmen or congressional members in an area at an event….” Russell, a former Secret Service agent commented.

Ceck out the article, and all of Russell’s insights here: Will shooting change security for congressmen? 

Improving School Safety Through Construction

SEC is thrilled to be working with Rockford Construction to pioneer the future of security-integrated construction. Together, we can to build educational centers that are designed with security and emergency preparedness in mind.

Our CEO Jason Russell participated in this blog with Rockford Construction. Check it out to learn more about the motivation behind our partnership: Improving School Safety Through Construction

SEC on Wood TV8

“We’re bringing that expertise that we’ve performed not only in the United States but all over the world and bringing it to schools:” SEC founder CEO Jason Russell has assembled a team of former Secret Service agents to provide presidential-level security to child care centers, schools, businesses and other organizations. He talked with WOOD TV8 tonight about security measures.

Check out the full interview at http://woodtv.com/2016/12/01/former-secret-service-agents-check-local-school-security/ 

A Lesson from South Carolina: The Importance of Safety Drills

All eyes were on South Carolina for a few hours on Wednesday as the first words of another school shooting spread across the Internet. But attention quickly faded as details became clear: two children and a teacher wounded, the teenage subject already in custody.

That the incident didn’t linger longer on the national stage is a sad testament to how routine school shootings have become. If there are not “enough” deaths, news like the shooting at Townville Elementary barely makes a blip on our collective radar.

But we can all learn a lot from the teachers, administrators and first responders in that small South Carolina town, who acted quickly and selflessly to protect students and subdue the shooter, who had allegedly shot and killed his father just prior to crashing a pickup truck through the fence outside the school.

Some media reports mentioned that the school had practiced safety drills, but the mention was glossed over. Their advance preparation enabled them to respond appropriately to the incident – and once again underscored the twin mandates of having a plan and then practicing.

The difference in this incident, though, was that the shooter struck outside the school. The playground is a much different situation than the classroom – or a football field or an assembly. We tell our clients that it’s important to think through all the situations where students and teachers gather and prepare to deal with those scenarios.

It’s critical to understand the options available in an active shooter situation like Townville Elementary faced. There are three:

  • Secure: Get behind a locked door or some other type of cover or concealment
  • Evacuate: Get away from the area as quickly as possible
  • Confront: Challenge the threat directly

In the case of Townville Elementary, teachers performed a reverse evacuation, getting students inside as quickly as possible. The volunteer firefighter tackled and restrained the shooter before he could follow everyone indoors.

Training and muscle memory clearly kicked in for both the teachers and the first responders, who quickly assessed the situation and chose the best options available to them. Had they not done so, it’s possible the situation would have escalated – and the headlines with Townville Elementary would continue to haunt us for days.

Op-Ed: Building Safety Standards Must Take on Same Significance as Fire Codes

Just this month, we have again watched the disturbing images of innocent people dealing with the trauma of an active shooter situation.

The terrible events in Orlando remind us once again of the current realities in our society. And another shooting incident earlier this month on the UCLA campus reminded me, as a law enforcement and security expert, how much more progress we need to make to properly prepare for these situations.

In the UCLA incident, students and staff members used any objects they could find – desks, chairs, belts – in makeshift attempts to barricade themselves in rooms with doors that do not lock.

It is distressing that those trying to get out of harm’s way were left to try to jury-rig barricades in an active shooter situation. That is not reflective of the world we live in given what happened at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and now Orlando.

I believe strongly that we need to adjust our thinking on security planning so that we are addressing a 21st Century problem with 21st Century know-how and safety features. The time has come to establish building safety standards, backed up by law enforcement inspections, much in the same way we now mandate fire codes and inspections.

The UCLA situation points to a fundamental problem with many emergency plans at schools and other public buildings and institutions – the procedures often do not fit the building’s features.

We regularly see security preparations that call for a lockdown in the event of an active shooter. But the daycare, school or office is often filled with doors that do not lock – just as we saw in those UCLA classrooms. During a threat, it does you no good to have a plan that calls for locking doors when those features do not exist. A threat is not the time to find out the safety plan and safety features do not match.

Security plans must take into account how a building is configured. For instance, if doors don’t lock and open out – some of which we saw at UCLA – then experts need to devise a plan that takes those features into account. Security experts can work around the nuances of a building but the situation needs an honest assessment.

We also increasingly find that considerations for fire prevention and safety are often at odds with considerations for security. In the simplest terms, during a fire, officials want people to get out. During a threat, though, those in law enforcement often want you to stay in place.

Make no mistake, our fellow public safety colleagues in fire departments have done a superb job instituting safety features into public buildings and imprinting fire safety onto our collective psyches. If you’re in a building the fire prevention features are apparent everywhere – fire extinguishers, illuminated “exit signs” and sprinkler systems are just a few examples.

But the time has come for us to put as much thought and practice into security measures for an active shooter as we have for fire risks. We need to address an issue that is part of our lives today and statistically presents more of a risk than other threats, including fires.

If you think about it, fire codes have evolved through the decades to address changing times and safety needs to the point where we have the effectiveness we see today. Security plans are lagging and need to follow suit to catch up with the times. We must find a way to ensure fire codes can co-exist with modern-day security needs.

That starts with adjusting our thinking on active shooter preparations to ensure we aren’t thwarted by the very mechanisms that are supposed to protect us. We need strong standards and good law enforcement oversight for safe buildings. In 2016, we can’t have traumatized people trying to come up with barricades on the fly because they can’t protect themselves from a shooter.

We owe it to our children and to ourselves to make sure proper security measures and a plan are as prevalent as fire extinguishers.

About Jason Russell: Jason Russell is the founder, president and CEO for Secure Education Consultants, a Michigan-based firm that specializes in security plans for schools, child care facilities and businesses across the country. Russell is a former special agent for the U.S. Secret Service, where he worked on protective and investigative assignments, as well as protecting the current president and vice president and former presidents. He leads a team of former Secret Service agents who help clients with security assessments and emergency plans. He can be reached at jason.russell@secureed.com.

Orlando Shooting

Jason Russell, president and founder of Secure Education Consultants, joins WZZM 13 to discuss the mass shooting in Orlando.  Watch the interview on wzzm.com

Lockdown vs. Sheltering in Place

Authorities have different expectations when they tell people to initiate a lockdown versus sheltering in place

A Lockdown is Not the Same as Sheltering in Place — and the Difference Matters During a Public Safety Threat 

Very often when you hear of a public safety threat like the one this week on Capitol Hill, the terms “lockdown” and “shelter in place” are used interchangeably in media reports or other announcements.

At one point during the live coverage, a television network had both terms on the screen at the same time.

However, the terms have very different meanings when it comes to a public safety response, based on the nature of the threat. Using them incorrectly can unintentionally send a very different message to family and friends waiting word after a natural disaster or mass shooting.

If the threat is not from a human – think a tornado or a large chemical spill – then people in harm’s way are told to “shelter in place.” That means find safety within the structure to minimize exposure to the external problem.

If the threat has a human component, and is potentially violent, authorities will issue a “lockdown,” meaning those in harm’s way need to look for cover and concealment.

We need to find a way to make these terms part of our common language. While the media are often the main culprit when it comes to incorrectly using these terms, you also see the organizations that are affected also using the wrong terms.

It isn’t just a matter of semantics. The two terms mean very different things to responding law enforcement and how they want people to seek safety.

Also, consider this: If you are a parent and you hear your school is under a lockdown when in fact those inside are sheltering in place because of a storm, your expectations – and panic – are likely at a different level. Or vice versa.

For these reasons, we are very clear about the differences when training organizations, so they correctly describe and carry out a threat response.

We take our training further and delineate in our plans four primary protocols:

  • Lockout: You see this in such situations as an armed robber on the loose in the area near your building, and you need to secure the perimeter. You lock out exterior entries since the situation has not yet reached you.
  • Lockdown: The threat is imminent or inside the building, and you need to focus on cover and concealment.
  • Shelter-in-place: Again, this is for a non-human threat, such as issuance of a tornado warning and you need to find a safe interior area.
  • Evacuation: There is a fire or bomb threat and occupants must vacate the building.

Keeping the right responses to certain situations in mind, and describing them correctly, are key parts of dealing with a safety threat. For the most efficient safety response, it would be a great help for people – especially those who disseminate the information about threats – to ensure they are using correct and standardized language on efforts to stay out of harm’s way.