Contact Form

Active Shooter Pillar Page Background Image.jpg

Profile of an Active Shooter

What does the term “active shooter” mean? According to the Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s)...”

Although there isn’t one definite “profile” of an active shooter, there are a few characteristics that they have in common:

  • They exhibit a “lone wolf” personality and are often socially isolated.
  • Before attacks, most have felt threatened or persecuted by others.
  • They act after a period of careful planning and preparation.
  • They want to be recognized, to create fear and panic, and inflict as much damage as possible.

Incident Statistics

It comes as no surprise that the number of active shooter incidents have risen over the past two decades. However, some other statistics we’ve found may come as a shock to you and your organization. Below are active shooter statistics in the United States between the years 2000 and 2013, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Active Shooter Statistics

4 Ways to Prepare Your Organization

The active shooter statistics are alarming. What’s even more startling are the discoveries of a study conducted by Everbridge. While active shooter incidents rank as the top threat companies are preparing for, 79% of respondents feel that their companies are only “somewhat” prepared for an active shooter incident and 61% reported not running any active shooter preparedness drills at all.

Planning and preparation are key to mitigating an active shooter incident. We recommend including stakeholders from multiple departments in your preparation discussions, such as security, executive management, human resources, facilities, property managers, and even local law enforcement officers.

Here are four ways you can get ahead of an active shooter event:

  1. Physical security
  2. Staff training and drills
  3. Emergency kits
  4. HR screening and counseling

Physical Security

What physical security measures do you have in place to deter, detect or prevent an active shooter from infiltrating and moving throughout your building? Some measures that you should consider include:

  • GuardsSecurity Guard for Active Shooter Preparedness
  • Cameras
  • Visitor management system
  • Emergency notification system
  • Access control devices (keys, cards, biometrics)
  • Security entrances/barriers to address the risk of tailgating (following authorized users)

Staff Training and Drills

It is vital that your staff are trained on how to respond to an active shooter incident. Conducting regular drills will arm employees with the knowledge to act quickly and stay safe. Some training and drill tips include:

  • Consult the authorities for clear instructions on what to do during an incident and then conduct regular role-playing drills with your staff.
  • Identify responsibilities of managers or those assisting individuals with special needs/disabilities.
  • Have at least two evacuation routes and post signs of the routes in visible locations.
  • Teach your staff to identify the sound of gunshots.
  • Consistency is key. Perform drills on a regular basis.

Emergency Kits

Just as families are encouraged to have a “go-bag” on hand for natural disasters and other emergencies, businesses should also assemble emergency kits for active shooter incidents or any other acts of crime/disaster. Your kit should include:

  • Emergency disaster kitEmployee rosters
  • Evacuation floor plans
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Radios
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit

Human Resources Screening and Counseling

Active shooter preparedness often starts with the proper screening and counseling made available by an organization’s human resources department. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Perform effective employee screenings and background checks
  • Recognize the signs that an employee is acting out and encourage other employees to report potentially violent behavior, such as increased alcohol and drug use, depression and withdrawal, severe mood swings and paranoid or suicidal comments.
  • Make counseling services available to staff

Security Entrances: How and Where Do They Fit into a Preparedness Plan?

We’ve seen many organizations mount an access control device to the outside of a locked swinging door in hopes of controlling access. Unfortunately, an employee with credentials can unlock the door and, being polite, hold the door open for a number of different people to enter. Thus enters the problem of “tailgating,” or an unauthorized person following an authorized person through an entrance. Tailgating is a common issue that many organizations struggle to overcome.

Tailgating Survey ResultsSurvey: Perceptions on Tailgating

We recently conducted a survey where we asked participants to share their perceptions regarding the risk of tailgating into their facility. 71% of those surveyed believe that it is “somewhat likely” to “very likely” that a security breach could happen at their facility because of tailgating. And 1 in 3 said that a tailgating incident could cost their organization $2 million to “too high to measure.”

Surprisingly, while the majority believe that tailgating poses a huge risk and could cost millions, 73% of respondents indicated that they are not tracking tailgating occurrences, and therefore, cannot appropriately address them.

Security Entrances Allow Your Employees to be Rude

So how do you stop someone from being polite and holding the door open for a stranger (tailgating)? Physical security entrances have no problem being rude in their efforts to control access to your building.

We like to say that security entrances put the “control” in your access control system. Security entrances only allow one person to enter per authorized credential, and will either alarm or completely prevent someone else from entering behind that authorized person. This takes the pressure off your employees and assists (or reallocates) your existing guard staff in their monitoring of various areas within your building.

It is important to note that not all security entrances are created equal. Tripod turnstiles, full height turnstiles, optical turnstiles, security revolving doors, and mantrap portals all differ in their ability to address tailgating. It is vital that you identify the unique tailgating mitigation goal for each area of your building and implement the entrance that best fulfills those goals. Skip to the heading: Doors vs. Turnstiles: How Do They Measure Up? to learn more about the differences between each type of security entrance.
Complete Line of Security Entrance Products

Where Should You Use Security Entrances?

It seems the obvious way to keep an active shooter from infiltrating your building is to secure the main entrance. While locking down the front entrance is extremely important, it is also vital that more security be added at both the ground level and upper levels of your building. The industry refers to this concept as securing your building “in layers,” or “hardening the core.”

Whitepaper: More Security, from Bottom to Top

More Security at the Ground Level

While optical turnstiles are an effective means of detecting tailgating into your facility, we’re seeing more and more Fortune 500 companies implementing a higher level of security instead: security revolving doors. Security revolving doors do not require manned supervision and go beyond tailgating detection to prevention.

We also know that active shooters act after a period of careful planning and preparation. This means they know all the entrances to your building before they ever step foot on your property. As a result, security is moving beyond just the front lobby. Security revolving doors are also being deployed at employee-only entrances around the building to ensure no entrance is left vulnerable to infiltration.

Moving Measures Upstairs

Security door and turnstile installations have typically occurred solely on the ground level of buildings. Once users were granted access to the elevators, they could access any floor within the building. However, this is changing. Owners of both single- and multi-tenant buildings are seeing the need to secure floors within their buildings, placing security entrances right off of the elevator banks. The ultimate goal is to keep an active shooter or other person intent on causing harm from reaching individuals within the building easily. The more obstacles you can put in their way, the better chance you have of them turning around and giving up.

Security Doors vs. Turnstiles: How Do They Measure Up?

You see the need to implement physical security entrances as part of your active shooter policy. So how do you select the best entrance to mitigate tailgating at various areas within your building? It comes down to understanding the capabilities of each entrance type and how they impact your organization’s overall security plan. Let’s take a quick look at how they differ.

Level 1: Crowd Control

Tripod turnstiles. Upon authorization, the bars of a waist high turnstile will rotate just once, allowing one person to enter. While these turnstiles control large numbers of people entering an area, they do not have sensors and, thus, cannot alert security staff to a breach (jumping over, crawling under). Guard supervision is required for 24-hour monitoring.

Level 2: DeterrentWhitepaper: How do security entrances affect an organization's bottom line?

Full height turnstiles. Often used at the building perimeter, these full height barriers deter an active shooter as they are not easy to jump over or crawl under. Upon authorization, the barriers will rotate to only allow one person through. However, due to a lack of sensors, two people are able to enter through the same compartment of the turnstile without sounding an alarm. Guard supervision is required for 24-hour monitoring.

Level 3: Detection

Optical turnstiles. Equipped with a sophisticated sensor system, optical turnstiles are able to detect a tailgating incident and sound an alarm to alert guard staff. It is important to note that upon valid authorization, the barriers of a turnstile will open and can allow a second person to rush through. Therefore, guard supervision is required for monitoring.

Level 4: Prevention

Security revolving doors and mantrap portals. Security doors are your ticket for true tailgating and piggybacking prevention, giving you the ability to eliminate or reallocate your existing guard staff. These solutions also provide you with rich metrics and allow you to accurately predict and quantify, with a low margin of error, your actual risk of infiltration.


Given the suggestions provided, have you considered how you are mitigating an active shooter incident at your facility? Security entrances are an effective means of making sure an unauthorized individual doesn't gain access to your valuable assets. For more information, please contact us at or request a free on-site consultation.

New Call-to-action