BUSINESS OUTSIDE THE BOX:
Active Shooter Solutions
By: Tegan Broadwater, Founder/COO of Tactical Systems Network, LLC (TSN) August 10, 2015
Highly publicized active shooter events this year have raised public awareness and concern once again. Garland, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Charleston, South Carolina; Antioch, Tennessee; Lafayette, Louisiana are among the most talked about. Much goes on behind the scenes of these incidents. Law enforcement and the FBI are constantly conducting comprehensive studies to improve response and learn more about where, how and why these events occur. According to the latest FBI Active Shooter study, which excludes gang and drug killings from their active shooter statistics, we are currently experiencing nearly one active shooter event every three weeks. It also addresses where these killings occur, how they were resolved, police response time, fatalities vs. injuries, and shooter outcomes among other statistics.
KEY ELEMENT MISSING
With all of the educational information in this report, profiling the shooter in order for us to anticipate or thwart many of these incidents is missing. As recent highly publicized incidents have shown, most active shooters battle significant mental health issues. Remove the idea that so many criminals, both with and without mental health issues, attempt to claim insanity to avoid prosecution. The fact is, many are truly in dire need of help and are not able to get it. Not only are they in need, but also many have significant issues that are causing them to justify acts such as these active shooter incidents. When a person is operating outside the scope of normal brain behavior, the danger for themselves and others rises markedly. They lose sight of what is right, legal and appropriate. They honestly feel inside that they are doing something within normal confines of reason. There is no higher risk to innocents than an assailant without conscience.
Last week, N. Charleston, South Carolina police released a strategic bulletin warning of a man they had identified, who had made a credible threat to get a gun and shoot up a movie theater. He was located that day in north Texas, detained and admitted to a mental health facility without incident. This supports my theory that so many of these incidents can be avoided altogether by simply recognizing a pattern of concerning behavior prior to an incident and creating better ways to provide professional assistance for them. These statistics will be hard to measure in a literal sense, since the result would be a non-event. However, the numbers of total active shooter incidents would decrease.
THE OTHER PROBLEM
We are mitigating a small percentage of the population when addressing this issue of mental health and active shooters. But a lack of proper funding to provide adequate care for these individuals is all it takes to increase the numbers year after year as we have seen. Many of us experience some degree of mental illness or depression. That is barely manageable with standard care offered by most insurance policies. However, when we look at those with serious conditions, what is typically offered does not provide adequate care. In this instance, the results are more extraordinary and often involve dangerous decisions that affect their own lives, their family's lives and in many cases, the lives of the public within their vicinity. All it takes is one to commit a shooting spree, so we must narrow the odds to reduce the overall numbers of active shooters with serious mental health concerns.
THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS GATHERED THE FOLLOWING DATA IN 2015:
- Approximately 4.1% adults in the U.S experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
- Approximately 21.4% aged 13–18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.
- 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.
- 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.
- 6.9% of adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
- 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
- Among the 20.7 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 40.7% had a co-occurring mental illness.
According to a study by the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2008, serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. That is a remarkable number, but it does not account for the mentally ill active shooter incident and the enormous cost incurred by law enforcement, businesses, and government. Add that to the immeasurable PTSD incurred by survivors and their families and you have a cycle that must be addressed.
Before one concludes that arming every citizen or posting police officers at every vulnerable business or entity at risk of an active shooter will solve this issue, one must consider these numbers. We are in dire need of funding reputable organizations that provide proper care and maintenance for these American people with reparable serious mental health issues. Without help, the odds increase that we will continue to experience an increased number of active shooter incidents.
FOUR STEPS TO A SOLUTION
- The first step is to look into your local MHMR organization and determine whether their financial disposition is acceptable. In almost every case, funding is insufficient. In Texas, for instance, the MHMR funding from the state places them 3rd from the bottom in the U.S. and poses risk to those within the MHMR industry. Working for even a reputable MHMR organization ranks among the lowest paid jobs and also affects management, which ends in perpetual struggles to provide even adequate care despite valiant and admirable efforts.
- Secondly, get involved. Whether it is with your pocketbook or your time, each additional piece to this puzzle provides a remarkable impact on at least one person. With recognition that this issue needs help, we can gather together and contribute to a better life for those affected and know that our public safety and security will also be improved.
- Report any suspicious activity that you intuitively suspect might turn violent. Do not feel apprehensive about notifying law enforcement about even a hunch. To law enforcement, this can prove most valuable in obtaining and sharing intelligence as well as providing them a way to remain in front of some of these horrific acts that surprise us so often. Share this policy within your business and ensure all involved are comfortable sharing their thoughts. This is a tried and true way to effectively anticipate an event before it takes place, giving your business and customers valuable time to mitigate it.
- Lastly, write your government and encourage those aligned with you to do so as well. Express your dedication and concern for this cause and why. Budgets for MHMR needs are often cut because of the lack of attention it receives. Know that if you provide a voice and share your concerns with others, this issue can be addressed with more urgency at the political level.
Recognizing the significance of serious mental illness in an active shooter incident and applying these solutions will lead to better law enforcement education and provide valuable awareness for all of us. The long-term result will be a significantly reduced number of disturbing active shooter incidents throughout our great country.
About the Author: Tegan Broadwater is the Founder & COO of Tactical Systems Network, LLC (TSN) – An executive-level security and investigations firm in Fort Worth, Texas. TSN's clients range from Fortune 100 companies to private wealth individuals, schools and businesses. He is an ex-municipal law enforcement officer and the author of "LIFE IN THE FISH BOWL, The true story of how one white cop infiltrated and took down 41 of the nation's most notorious Crips."
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