AMU Law Enforcement Original Public Safety

We Need a Comprehensive Plan for Active Shooter Incidents

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has two important policies that most emergency management offices follow: The five phases of emergency management include prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Within the five phases of emergency management, FEMA also directs emergency managers to follow the All Hazards Approach while planning and responding to emergencies and disasters.  These policies are the foundation for emergency management in the United States at all levels of government.

Many academics, however, have added another important piece to the intricate web of emergency management: community resilience. Essentially, community resilience involves the notion that communities can create networks and systems to help them bounce back quickly from a disaster.

Community resilience concepts vary from community to community because what will make one community more resilient and have many lasting effects may not work for another community. In essence, community resilience is a particularly important factor for emergency management. It creates the opportunity for communities not only to become more resilient following an active shooter incident, but also to create mitigation plans and strategies for managing such incidents.

Mitigation and Policy Considerations

Active shooter incidents are a major cause for concern in the United States. They shake communities to the core and rob families of their loved ones. It has also become increasingly more apparent that comprehensive plans are needed to effectively mitigate active shooter incidents.

Jonathan M. Metzel and KennethnT. MacLeish argue that mental health issues are often at the core of active shooter incidents, – more so than other criminal activity.  In essence, mental health care needs to be strengthened and counselors need to recognize the warning signs of an individual who may go on a shooting rampage. Further, healthcare costs and insurance premiums need to be revised drastically so individuals who may be at risk of committing such crimes can receive the mental health care they need. And, it should also be noted that healthcare disparities in the United States are so problematic they prevent equal care of individuals based on where they live. These policy problems in the United States are certainly not all-encompassing, but they do highlight a number of the points that contribute to the overall problem of active shooter incidents.

As a result, it is going to take a comprehensive mitigation plan at all levels of government to effectively work to end active shooter incidents. More importantly, however, a comprehensive plan should not be viewed as a federal edict, but rather as a local plan that communities can embrace.

Certainly various policies will become part of this equation, but it will take much more for communities to effectively mitigate these kinds of incidents. It will mean better mental health care, correcting health disparities and many other policy facets that will work to prevent future active shooter incidents.

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