The FBI recently stated in a report, “We now live in the age of public shootings.” Here’s the training program Best Buy developed to defend against this growing safety threat.
The annual number of “active shooter” incidents has continued to rise since 2000, according to the FBI. There was one incident in 2000 and the FBI recorded 20 incidents in its database in 2015.
What exactly is an active shooter incident?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as:
“An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Most incidents occur at locations in which the killers find little impediment in pressing their attack. Locations are generally described as soft targets, that is, they carry limited security measures to protect members of the public. In most instances, shooters commit suicide, are shot by police, or surrender when confrontation with responding law enforcement becomes unavoidable.”
Missy Bertrand, Senior Manager of Enterprise Safety, Best Buy, in Richfield, MN, described how the major retailer developed an active shooter training program at the recent ASSE Safety 2017 conference in Denver.
Best Buy’s training approach
Bertrand went to senior leadership with facts on the threat of mass shootings to the retailer, including:
- there were 12 active shooter incidents within two miles of Best Buy locations within a three-month span
- the workplace is the No. 1 location for an active shooter event
- Best Buy employees requested training, and
- there’s been civil unrest throughout the country.
Best Buy has retail space and large warehouses, so it evaluated the needed training based on each location.
The company has 1,400 retail locations nationwide, and it created online training with a video showing the Run-Hide-Fight methodology. The video targets all employees, is required annually and is then reinforced with store drills.
The company also has 35 warehouse facilities in remote locations. Best Buy worked with local police departments and created Run-Hide-Fight training for leadership in each location.
The training is in a classroom setting, and the police aren’t present. Bertrand said a police presence during the training was deemed too intimidating for employees.
Warehouse leadership also gave police a tour of their locations.
As Best Buy went through the process, Bertrand said these were the lessons learned:
- Hold training during non-peak hours, so you don’t scare workers or start rumors when the police arrive. Always communicate the reason in advance for the police presence.
- Communicate to workers that the training is not in response to a threat.
- Consider rally points during drills so you can get a head count. Some police departments recommend this, while others don’t. The advantage is that an employee head count can be taken; the disadvantage is if a current or ex-employee is the perpetrator, they’ll know the location.
- Provide a blueprint of the building to the police. Most departments can download the document and, if a call comes, responders will be better prepared.
- Have an Active Shooter code. Best Buy had codes for fire alarms and severe weather to announce over radios and the intercom, but realized it didn’t have one for shooters.
- Don’t pull the fire alarm in a shooter event. You may send employees directly into the line of fire.
- Ensure phones are available to call 911. Most Best Buy employees aren’t allowed cellphones on the floor, so how could they call 911? The company placed landline phones throughout the locations.
- If an incident occurs, it’s better if more people call 911. Responders can then gather the facts from several people.