Question of the Month: What are the commonalities of what happened in Vegas and Parkland? - by Doug Haines

March 20, 2018 - Design / Build
Doug Haines, 
Haines Security Solutions

For obvious reason, folks have focused in on the AR-15 and the ability of crazy people to get their hands on one, whether legally or illegally.  To solve the issue of a person getting their hands on a weapon and using it to commit mass murder will take some doing and it will take a significant amount of time because the root causes are so profound.

Besides the weapon, there is an even more glaring commonality to what links Vegas and Parkland and I believe most people are overlooking it.

What these two events share is that people who were familiar with the functions of the locations were able to misuse those procedures to their advantage.  

Las Vegas

In the case of the Las Vegas shooter, he was able to amass large numbers of weapons in his room over a period of time.  He didn’t draw suspicion because people going and coming in hotel lobbies, especially in Vegas is normal.  In fact, he would have drawn attention if he’d checked in with no luggage.  But then again, this is Vegas where “What happens in...Vegas!” Additionally, he was effectively able to keep out room service from disturbing his plans by placing the “snoozing” sign on his door.  

The media and security professional have accused the casino of failing to prevent this catastrophe from occurring I can honestly say that that anger is misdirected.  The concert venue was just as much at fault.  The security fences used to ensure only those with tickets could get in actually caused choke points when folks were trying to escape1.  Additionally, others say the hotel should have thought through this scenario.  No – the venue should have thought about all of the high elevation vantage points and removed all lines-of-sight from outside of the venue.

Parkland

The Parkland shooter on the other hand had attended active shooter training as a student and was aware of the Run-Hide-Fight2 concept.  He knew that when he started shooting people would hunker-down inside classrooms and barricade themselves in.  He pulled the fire alarm, so people would come out. This allowed him to slaughter students and teachers as they exited.

The Commonality

Both venues, the concert venue and the high school, failed to provide realistic ballistic protection.  

High occupancy indoor spaces; such as, classroom, theaters, offices, conference rooms need to be designed with two means of escape built in.  Preferably on opposite sides of the space.  For outdoor spaces; i.e., parks, sport fields, concert venues, ballistic protection in the form of benches, planters, etc. need to be dispersed throughout the area so that people are given a place to hide behind that actually shields them.  

We must also consider the possibility that people will not be able to escape – then what?  We must insist that the spaces they must use for protection actually offer them that from high – caliber weapons. Dry-wall won’t do that nor will stacking desks/chair up against a door to prevent it from being opened.  

The rush to buy back-packs with ballistic protection offers little protection against the AR-15. Parents should be advocating for ballistically protective spaces for their children, rather than buying back-packs that offer no protection from an AR-15.

A projectile shot from a gun or a vehicle being driven at a high rate of speed creates kinetic energy.  To keep either from causing damage the energy must be absorbed by something. Products are available within the marketplace that can absorb this energy and offer effective protection.

Government officials are already allocating more monies for school resource officers (RSO) and surveillance.  It is money wasted.  The RSO won’t be in the right place at the right time or will become the first victim and unless the cameras are being monitored in real time and a response force can respond in mere seconds most of the damage will already have occurred. 

I’m afraid little will change.  Primarily because politicians don’t have the “balls” to enact the necessary long term changes, so we’d better start concentrating on reducing the effects of these types of attack instead.

Footnotes:

1. https://view.joomag.com/ast-champions-edition-december-2017-digital-dec/0042000001513821259?short 

2. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/experts-schools’-active-shooter-prep-being-done-the-wrong-way/ar-BBJHq02?ocid=st  

Doug Haines, MPSE, is owner/CEO of Haines Security Solutions, Ventura, Calif.

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