K.I.D.S© - A Proactive Approach to School Murders
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on our website ten years ago today. The lessons it provides are every bit as prescient today as they were then...perhaps even moreso.
EARLY CITIZEN AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OPTIONS
Just as we have mistakenly treated the symptoms of a malady instead of the root cause, so too have we failed to adequately address the copycat root problem of Rapid Mass Murder© (1) by an active killer (2) in educational facilities and workplaces.
When the shooting starts, the "Final Option" for citizens is to run, hide or fight. An armed citizen in the right place at the right time needs to be seriously considered for schools and workplaces. Enlisting licensed volunteer parents, even younger grandparents to be "Hall monitors" in schools where they have a vested interest in the safety of their children is currently a neglected resource. All that is required is written permission from the school board, some vetting, and an extra training program. The present arrangement is the unintentional creation of a "Killer Empowerment Zone"©.
Law enforcements final option is armed intervention. While law enforcement has total control with their own response, it is beneficial for both the community and law enforcement to become partners in an advisory capacity with their schools and workplaces to assist in the development of earlier options and strategies to avoid the final option.
What is "KIDS" and where did it come from? KIDS© (3) is an acronym for the concept of a "Killer Inside Discovered Sooner"©. KIDS evolved from the pressing need to explore any and all early options to avoid the "final option" after the shooting starts. Typically in school murders the criminal is a student, former student, suspended or expelled student. The exceptions are facilities such as Day-Care, Pre-School, Kindergarten and Elementary schools where the killer is typically an outsider and where restricted entry is the most crucial. In workplace incidents, typically the murderer is an employee, former employee, suspended or fired employee.
For both schools and workplaces worldwide, between 1975 and the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, rapid mass murder events occurred on average, about one per year. Post Columbine to date, we are averaging almost four a year. 2011 broke the record with an all time high of eight (8) rapid mass murder events. Unfortunately, we are already on track for another record-breaking year. Of all the different locations of copycat rapid mass murder, +/- 60% are at Schools and Educational facilities. This is probably because juveniles and adults with "Numerous Unstable or Troubling Symptoms"©, (NUTS (4)), are more susceptible to the Copycat Effect (5).
While law enforcement in general is aware of active killers, rapid mass murder, and how they occur, your local schools and workplaces may not be. They may be confused and thinking in terms of hostages, negotiation, or organized terrorism when in reality these are not the threats they are typically facing. For example, in our 20-minute prerequisite for rapid mass murder, no hostage taking, negotiation or organized terrorism incidents in schools or workplaces come to mind. The cowardly active killer is indeed a totally different bird than a hostage taker.
Unfortunately, rapid mass murder, (and attempts), can and have occurred almost anywhere. Examples are: a Casino, Churches, a Coffee Shop, Elementary schools, a Grocery store, High Schools, Hospitals, on an Island, Junior High Schools, a Library, Malls, Military Bases, a Nursing Home, a Pharmacy, Post Offices, Restaurants, a Rural one-room schoolhouse, University campuses, Urban day care, and miscellaneous Workplaces.
When rapid mass murder occurs, it has done so with frightening speed. For example, the time period can range from 15 seconds, (Tucson AZ, Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford's incident, six murdered, 13 wounded), to over an hour, (on a Norwegian Island, 69 dead, 60 wounded), both in 2011. Currently, our records indicate rapid mass murder incidents are averaging +/- six minutes. Unfortunately, the delay in notifying law enforcement is about the same six minutes. It is for these reasons that law enforcement should be assisting the community by teaming up with their schools and workplaces for mutual benefit.
For example, in one unfortunate incident, a school principle and custodian disarmed a student who brought a shotgun to school. The student drew a concealed handgun and fatally shot the principle. While law enforcement is quite aware that active killers typically possess multiple weapons, teachers and administrators may not be. In this case, had the principle and custodian known information like this in advance and acted differently, a life may have been saved.
Law enforcement is handicapped by time, distance, delayed notification and sometimes, faulty beliefs such as the "Posse Theory"©, (http://www.spartancops.com/posse-theory-workable-tactic-mass-murder/). Schools, Workplaces and law enforcement all need to be prepared for the final option. However, serious efforts should be invested on any and all options so as to avoid the final option. The ball is in the schools and workplace's court here, but law enforcement should get the ball rolling. A good place to start would be with introducing the five phases of the active shooter incident and proposing school intelligence team meetings with representatives from local law enforcement.
"THE FIVE PHASES OF THE ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENT"
Several early options to locate a potential killer and deter or prevent casualties have been identified by Lt. Dan Marcou, (LaCross WI/PD Ret.), author and law enforcement trainer. Marcou published an article on this subject in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of the "THE ASSOCIATE," an FBI magazine. His five phases are summarized below. Note that the first three or four phases may give an opportunity for possible early identification of potential killers, with potentially no casualties. This "handle" on the problem is Marcou's gift to those enlightened enough to understand and use it effectively.
1. FANTASY: Picture drawing, WEBSITE postings, even discussion with others, (Possible EARLY ID & Zero casualties);
2. PLANNING: May put plans in writing, often discusses plans with others, (Possible EARLY ID & Zero casualties);
3. PREPARATION: Acquiring weapons and ammunition, may notify friends not to go to school or work on a certain day, (Possible EARLY ID & Zero casualties);
4. APPROACH: Moving toward target carrying tools, FINAL CHANCE to intervene, (may end in zero casualties);
5. IMPLEMENTATION: The killing starts.
Our academy's "Stopwatch of Death"© (6) research into these incidents validates much of Marcou's work especially the stages of Fantasy and Planning. Our research of multiple dozens of rapid mass murder incidents revealed that after many of these incidents, people would seem to come out of the woodwork, telling reporters what they knew about the coward before he started killing.
NUMEROUS UNSTABLE OR TROUBLING SYMPTOMS, ("NUTS"©)
Most often, the typical coward that eventually commits rapid mass murder has previously used a social medium such as the Internet for posting writings, pictures, and videos. Conversations with his peer group were also frequently mentioned. While each of these mediums alone may not have alarmed a responsible adult, a cluster taken as a whole should. Problem? Yes! It is generally only the coward's peer group of immature teens that sees and hears these things.
After the fact, when these juvenile witnesses and others come forward, they relate to being dismissive at the time, "thinking" the coward was kidding, showing off, bragging, etc. Then of course there is the unwritten teen code of not tattling on another, especially to an adult. Just when adult maturity and understanding is needed, it is absent. Earlier intervention, prevention, and deterrence are needed and early identification of potential suspects is key to the teamwork required.
SCHOOL "SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE TEAM" (S.I.T. ©)
We suggest, you decide. Key to identification of potential school killers, and prevention or deterrence is regular meetings of a team of serious minded and dedicated people. This should include at least two administrators, a few teachers and two law enforcement officers. The reason for at least two is to increase the potential of at least one representative of each per meeting, (vacations, sick, days off, at training, Etc.). When a meeting is missed for some reason, the attending party would brief the absent party at their earliest convenience from notes taken. How to involve a student component in the school intelligence team should be looked at locally. There may be legal, policy and parental problems selecting and pre-vetting students.
The student component of the special intelligence team is for a couple of reasons. Primarily as students are more likely to hear intelligence or rumors that teachers don't. Secondly, students are generally already engaged and active on mediums such as FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, texting, Tweeting, Etc. This Internet co-op would be a valuable intelligence gathering modular component of the special intelligence team.
BEHAVIORS, WORDS AND ACTIONS
Preliminary and periodic training for the special intelligence team should be emphasized, especially about updating intelligence from current rapid mass murder events. Included should be the typical numerous unstable or troubling symptoms about the active killer revealed after each incident. While rapid mass murder incidents are typically copycat incidents, there are a myriad of variations in reported symptoms. A collection of these could be important for the intelligence team to get a sense of or see a pattern for potential future more dangerous symptoms. With an adequate database, some of these patterns could be reasonable suspicion predictive for enlightened researchers. Eventually, the better special intelligence teams could develop a model to share with other schools. "No one knows everything, but everybody knows."
WHERE GOOD INTENTIONS HAVE NOT PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE
Electronic (Buzzer) door locks with monitored camera and 2-way intercom to restrict entry are good, but not perfect. The person monitoring the camera must be a discriminating person, not just a button pusher. Video cameras "watching" different areas of the school are of no real-time use unless constantly monitored with frequent relief for the monitor. For example, in a correctional facility with cameras everywhere, there was an incident of a correctional officer, a grandmother, being severely beaten by a large prisoner while no one was watching the monitors. Metal detectors? When manned by an unarmed security guard, they would be the first victim of an active killer. Ditto for other unarmed security.
"SECURITY" OR AN ACTIVE KILLER MAGNET?
"Never call an unarmed man 'security,'" LTC Ret Dave Grossman said. (http://www.policeone.com/active-shooter/articles/2058168-Lt-Col-Dave-Gro...) "Call him 'run-like-hell-when-the-man-with-the-gun-shows-up' but never call an unarmed man security. Imagine if someone said, 'I want a trained fire professional on site. I want a fire hat, I want a fire uniform, I want a fire badge. But! No fire extinguishers in this building. No fire hoses. The hat, the badge, the uniform — that will keep us safe — but we have no need for fire extinguishers.' Well, that would be insane. It is equally insane, delusional, legally liable, to say, 'I want a trained security professional on site. I want a security hat, I want
a security uniform, and I want a security badge, but I don't want a gun.' It's not the hat, the uniform, or the badge. It's the tools in the hands of a trained professional that keeps us safe."
SCHOOL SAFETY AWARENESS
Parents, of course, have a vested interest in the safety of their children. Schools have a custodial responsibility for the safety of their students. While parents are not present during school hours, teachers are. Both need to know that violence in the schools, such as "Rapid Mass Murder"© is on the increase. Parents and their children trust the school and teachers to know and do the right thing at the right time, even if that means volunteer armed teachers. Schools need to develop plans and devise protective strategies and tactics to delay the active killer and mitigate casualties. For example, Lock-downs can and have worked. Law enforcement can have valuable input here.
WHAT HAS WORKED TO STOP THE KILLING? INITIATION BY A SINGLE ACTOR!
In almost a decade of our research for law enforcement aborts, incidental learning revealed that law enforcement is not the major factor in stopping the killing. In known stoppages, or aborts, unarmed and armed citizens together have stopped rapid mass murder, (and attempts), two thirds of the time. Initially, and remarkably, initiation by a single citizen, mostly unarmed, accounts for the majority of those successes, (+/- 80%, such as the 2012 Chardon, Ohio High School, where a courageous unarmed Coach chased the cowardly gunman out of the building (http://abcnews.go.com/US/chardon-high-school-shooting-gunman-identified-...). When an active killer is stopped, the murdering is stopped. When law enforcement was successful in stopping the killer, it was also through the remarkable initial initiation of a SOLO officer, ("Single Officer's Lifesaving Others"©, +/- 70%).
THE FINAL OPTION: RUN, HIDE OR FIGHT?
When all else has failed and an emergency announcement is made or shots are heard, what is the best response? It depends! If the killer's location is known for certain, and it is possible to exit unexposed in the opposite direction, running away can be a safe escape method. However, we need to be aware that there is at least one incident where the killers, after tripping the fire alarm, waited outside to murder children exiting the building, (1998 Jonesborough, Arkansas).
There were also at least two incidents where the killer's started inside and pursued fleeing innocents outdoors, (1994 Fairchild Air Force Base Hospital, and 2009 Ft. Hood Texas Reception Center). The March 2012 Toulouse France shooting started outdoors with the coward pursuing victims inside.
Schools have wisely developed lock-down plans and law enforcement has developed final option responses of armed intervention into the school. Enlightened schools and police have separately practiced for these two methods. The lockdown plan in facilities that can be secured, such as school room doors kept locked but propped open for normal access can and has been successful, (for example, 2008 Willoughby South High School Ohio http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLJ,GGLJ:2...). The lock down process delays and deters the killer while both protecting innocents and buying time for law enforcement to arrive. Even if the killer can breach the locked room door somehow, at best, properly trained students still have the fighting option, which is how most successful citizen aborts overpower the killer. At worst, the compartmentalization delays the killer and keeps casualties at a minimum.
Typically, once the shooting starts, people will be hurt, wounded and even killed. Therefore, the greater portion of efforts should be focused beforehand on any options to avoid bloodshed. The majority of rapid mass murder incidents occur at schools and educational facilities. Typically, the shooter is or has been a student at these sites. The goal of KIDS© is discovering potential rapid mass murder suspects earlier. Any identification traits such as "Numerous Unstable or Troubling Symptoms"©, should be reported as soon as possible to trusted adults. Protective anonymity of students that reveal rumors or actual intelligence should be practiced.
The Special Intelligence Team, (S.I.T. ©), goal should be based on serious teamwork, and avoid becoming a boring committee. Gathering and organizing relevant intelligence is key to preventing rapid mass murder. Law enforcement teaming up with schools and workplaces is the best strategy to obtain "Foreknowledge." "The Art of War" Author Sun Tzu, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_War), encouraged "Winning without fighting."
Teachers, as responsible adults, are key in leading students through Active Killer Emergency Drills, (http://www.spartancops.com/school-active-killer-emergency-drills/). Statistically, it is unlikely that law enforcement can arrive in time unless the killer is delayed and/or unless there is rapid notification to law enforcement. Delayed notification to police will cost lives. Everyone should get to a position of comparative safety, and call police immediately! Keep in mind that both citizen and law enforcement aborts have occurred in just over half of rapid mass murder incidents. School strategies such as armed security, lock-downs and barricading the doors with furniture have worked to "Hold the fort until the Calvary arrives."
What the data clearly suggests is that a single aggressive actor in the right place, doing the right thing at the right time, has been most responsible for saving lives. For example, the March 8, 2012 rapid mass murder attempt, (2 guns and extra ammunition), at the University of Pittsburgh, (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-03-09/pittsburgh-clinic-s...), reshaped our statistics. Early reports have three campus police officers fatally shooting the cowardly murderer. In successful law enforcement aborts, initiation by SOLO officers is now at +/- 70 %; initiation by two officers is +/- 15 %; and initiation by three officers is now also at +/- 15 %.
Enlightened officers will note that adding the 2 and 3 officer percentages totals about one third of the stoppages, while the SOLO officer's initiation commands the majority two thirds of LE aborts. The data suggests that any delay waiting for more officers after the first officer arrives, is a deadly delay. By default, any delay is giving the cowardly murderer more time for his body count. Officers or agencies still training on the basis of the "Posse Theory"© (7) need to take note: When rapid mass murder is aborted, both unarmed and armed citizens, stop the killing twice as often as law enforcement officers. In the majority of rapid mass murder attempts that are aborted, it is initially the actions of a single actor that is the major factor in saving lives.
About the author: After a three decade police career, Ron Borsch is semi-retired. His career included 20 years as Rangemaster and Pistol Team Captain and 17 years as a SWAT operator and trainer. While retaining a police commission as a consultant-trainer, since 1998, he has managed and been the lead trainer for SEALE Regional Police Training Academy, a post-graduate facility in Bedford, Ohio. In the year 2000, after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, Ron began specializing in tactically training regular patrol officers. Academy research input included original feedback from hosting two symposiums with attendees from Schools, Fire and Police personnel in both 2000 and 2005.
Over the years through preparation, reality research, and feedback from multiple dozens of law enforcement agencies, (eventually officers from six different states), SEALE Academy's premier "Tactical 1st Responder"© course went through numerous upgrading evolutions. Ron is recognized both nationwide and internationally for ground breaking research and statistics by publications on premier law enforcement websites. Ron has presented to Minnesota Chiefs of police at a school safety conference, to fellow police instructors in Chicago IL, Troy MI, a Task Force's Homeland Defense conference in Harrisburg PA, and co-presented a program on workplace violence, "The Final Option" with the Sheriff of Cuyahoga County Ohio Bob Reid. Ron has been an evaluator for three different police department’s active killer simulations and response rehearsal training.
(1) "Rapid Mass Murder"© Within 20 minutes, four or more intentionally killed at the same time and public location. (Copyright SEALE Police Academy and Ron Borsch).
(2)"Active Killer": "One who commits rapid mass murder"© (Copyright SEALE Police Academy and Ron Borsch).
(3)"KIDS" © The lifesaving project of "Killer Inside Discovered Sooner"© (Copyright SEALE Police Academy and Ron Borsch).
(4) "NUTS"©: "Numerous Unstable or Troubling Symptoms"©. Typically, after rapid mass murder incidents, multiple people in news stories are being quoted about how they knew the cowardly murderer and reveal examples of his troubling or bazaar statements or behaviors. Generally, many of these people were not concerned enough before the murders to have told relevant authorities. (Copyright SEALE Police Academy and Ron Borsch).
(5)"Copycat Effect"©: A compulsion to imitate what someone else has done. Book by Loren Coleman. http://www.lorencoleman.com/copycateffect/copycat_effect1.htm
(6)"The Stopwatch of Death"© Provides a reliable unit of measurement with which to determine the scale of one active killer incident with another. For example, Columbine High School had 2.1 murder attempts per minute, Dunblane Scotland Elementary school had 8.0 murder attempts per minute. It is merely dividing the number of casualties by the known shooting time. The product is the number of attempted murders per minute. (Copyright SEALE Police Academy and Ron Borsch).
(7) "Posse Theory"© (http://www.spartancops.com/posse-theory-workable-tactic-mass-murder/) The mistaken belief that there is time to wait for backup or round up a formation of multiple trained officers without a penalty of some sort. This formerly popular strategy has a poor tracking history of stopping the killing. Of successful law enforcement aborts, two and three officers together have only been successful one third of the time, the majority two thirds of successes are initiated by SOLO officers).
Anyone that seriously looks at rapid mass murder incidents should conclude that waiting for backup or to form a multiple officer formation does nothing for the much more immediate objective of "Stopping the Killing." In fact, officers that so delay the objective through the errors of "Tombstone Caution" or "Tactical Loitering," by default, actually increase the casualty rate of innocents. The reason for such a low rate of successful aborts by multiple officers is simply: "Too many too late." Since two thirds of all mass murder stoppages are by citizens, mostly unarmed, this begs the question, "Just how many armed officers it takes to equal one unarmed citizen?" (Copyright SEALE Police Academy and Ron Borsch).
"Stop Teaching Kids To Kill" © Book by LTC/Ret Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano http://www.killology.com/book_stop_summary.htm
"Surviving A School Shooting"© Book by Loren Christensen http://www.lwcbooks.com/books/schoolshooting.html
"Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer"© Book by Phil Chalmers www.philchalmers.com/index.php
"A Parents Guide To School Shootings"© Essay and copyright by Greg Ellifritz: http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/node/8240
SEALE Police Academy: A non-profit post-graduate facility in Bedford Ohio originally founded in 1998 by and for a seven community cooperative that has since served officers from over a hundred different agencies from six different states.