January 19, 2021

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Understanding Active Shooter Warning Signs

 

 

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol.

Today’s Tip is for law enforcement officers and it’s about trying to understand the active shooter. Or the active killer. I’ll use the term active shooter, but I’m talking about any type of active threat to multiple people regardless of the type of weapon used.

It will always be difficult to identify an active shooter. But if we can identify them there’s a chance for intervention. A chance to avoid tragedy.

The FBI recently studied active shooters and their report included some interesting findings. For example, 41% of active shooters they studied were reported to law enforcement for concerning behavior before the shooting event. And 25% of the time, the person who noticed the concerning behavior was a law enforcement official.

Some of the signs traditionally used to predict violent behavior may not be present. Most active shooters studied did not have a history of violent criminal behavior or firearms offenses. A significant number of active shooters purchased their firearms legally and specifically for the shooting incident.

Most of the active shooters had more than one major stressor in their lives. Stressors often included the loss of a job or perceived unfair discipline at work. Many also had mental health issues, such as depression or paranoia.

Some of the stressors or the mental health issues may not have been obvious. But there were often behavioral clues that surfaced. Many shooters had a history of abusive or harassing actions toward family or co- workers. The study found that when the active shooter shifts focus from punishing an individual to punishing an institution or community, the risk increased.

It will always be difficult to identify an active shooter. But if we can identify them there’s a chance for intervention. A chance to avoid tragedy. Learn everything you can about the warning signs. Encourage citizens to report concerning behavior. Take their concerns seriously.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

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