More on Active Shooters

Q: What Are Some Behavioral Indicators of a Potential Active Shooter?

A: According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), employees typically do not just “snap,” but display indicators of potentially violent behavior over time. If these behaviors are recognized, they can often be managed and treated. It is important for employers to train employees to recognize indicators of potentially violent behavior. Such behavior by an individual can include one or more of the following:

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs;
  • Depression and/or withdrawal;
  • Resistance and overreaction to changes in policies and procedures;
  • Increased severe mood swings;
  • Repeated violations of company policies;
  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses;
  • Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene
  • Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation;
  • Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“everybody is against me”);
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism;
  • Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace;
  • Talk of severe financial problems;
  • Suicidal indications;
  • Talk of previous incidents of violence;
  • Comments about “putting things in order”
  • Empathy with individuals who commit violence; and
  • Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and violent crimes.

Many of these indicators will violate most companies’ anti-violence policies and justify discipline against the employee. However, discharging the employee is no guarantee against a future active-shooter situation. For this reason, DHS recommends that employers create an Emergency Action Plan. For more information, access DHS’s Active Shooter: How to Respond publication.

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