Print Issue: September 2016
On June 12, 2016, a gunman shot 102 people in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, killing 49. Agencies, both government and private, must be prepared to recover from such major incidents. Following are five issues that should be considered when crafting post-incident plans.
1. COUNSELING. Identify a list of counselors for the living victims, family members of the deceased, and other persons who were directly or indirectly involved with the incident. This includes first responders. (In this case, where the gay community was targeted, special emphasis was placed on their needs.) Counselors can include certified therapy animals and their trained handlers. Providing privacy and personal time for the families and friends of the victims in their time of grief is crucial. It is also important to shield those who ask for privacy from the media.
2. BUSINESSES. Access must be granted to the area surrounding the incident so that local businesses can resume operation as soon as possible. The crime scene should be processed in a timely manner to allow the community to return to a feeling of normalcy and business as usual.
3. COMMUNITY AWARENESS. The use of the friendly and concerned media can help keep the community informed and involved. Holding frequent press conferences and meetings with the community and its leaders conveys that agencies plan to be open about the incident and the follow-up.
4. DEBRIEFING. Ensure that all victims, witnesses, and responders are fully interviewed in a humane and caring way. This will assist the lead agency in trying to reconstruct the incident and come to a fuller understanding of its causes and outcomes.
5. PLANNING. Continue to work within the community to plan for possible future incidents, identify possible soft targets, educate the public on the appropriate response to such an attack, work with the public on developing strategic response plans, and communicate openly with all involved.
H.R. "Hank" Nolin, CPP, is a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant who has owned various security agencies in Central Florida. He is an active member of the ASIS Military Liaison Council.