Since 2006, over 75% of mass shootings have occurred at commercial businesses. From car washes and beauty salons to grocery stores and big-box retailers, no commercial property is safe from the threat of gun violence that has become so commonplace in our country.
The first retail shooting of the modern era took place in 1966 on a beauty school campus in Mesa, Arizona. Since then, there have been more than 30 shootings at retail locations across the United States, with dozens of people left dead as a result. The deadliest store shooting took place in 2019 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which claimed the lives of 22 people.
The mass shooting crisis is a growing epidemic and a uniquely American problem, with more than half of the retail mass shootings between 1966 and 2020 occurring in the past 14 years.
Business owners need to take proactive solutions to curb gun violence at their retail outlets. This includes implementing Emergency Action Plans and active shooting training for store employees and security teams and installing security cameras complete with integrated AI gun detection software to recognize guns and alert the authorities before any shots are fired.
Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) for Small, Medium and Large Commercial Retail Businesses
The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies, such as an active shooter event. Create an EAP specifically for active shooter events to help keep staff and customers safer if faced with that situation.
Active Shooter Training for Small to Medium-Sized Retail & Grocery Stores
- Develop a detailed EAP and have your employees practice it regularly so it will be second nature if they ever need it.
- The EAP should inform staff on emergency escape procedures and route assignments (e.g., floor plans, safe areas), including where to go and how to evacuate when the primary evacuation routes are unusable. The main goal in smaller spaces is to get as many people as far away from the threat as possible, exit when necessary, and shelter-in-place in safe spaces. Employees should assist others to safety if at all possible.
- The EAP training should also clearly explain shelter-in-place and lockdown procedures, including the differences between the two. Employees should know that if they can’t evacuate, to cover and hide. They need to leave all personal belongings behind, find a place to hide out of view of the attacker and if possible, put a solid barrier between themselves and the threat and lock the doors.
- Personnel involved in EAP planning should ensure all sheltering sites and evacuation routes are accessible for persons with disabilities.
Active Shooter Training for Large Retail Spaces, including Shopping Malls
- Implement EAP procedures that include evacuation, shelter-in-place, hide, and lockdown policies for large offices and facilities. Your security teams should be well versed in evacuation measures for large crowds to avoid panic and should be prepared to assist in pointing masses to exit points and, if necessary, safe hiding locations.
- Optimal “safe” locations have ballistic protection known as “cover” which includes thick walls made of steel, cinder block, or brick and mortar; solid doors with locks; and areas with minimal glass and interior windows. These areas can be stocked with accessible first aid and emergency kits designed for hemorrhage control, communication devices, and telephones or duress alarms.
- Designated “shelter-in-place” locations are often designed for natural hazards (earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.) and may not be ideal for active shooter incidents.
- Facilities and/or agencies should consider the development of safe rooms when selecting or renewing a leased facility or new construction.
- Personnel involved in such planning should ensure all sheltering sites and evacuation routes are accessible for persons with disabilities.
This blog is an excerpt from our safety and security planning eBook for commercial businesses. To learn more, download our eBook, “Learn How to Keep Employees and Customers Safer with a Multi-Layered Security Plan.” Find out what commercial business leaders need to know when looking at gun detection technology solutions, and how to make meaningful changes at your businesses to keep your employees and customers safe. Download the eBook today.