Three Risk Mitigation Steps Amid Threats of Violence
Recent threats by terrorists have cited as targets shopping malls in the US and elsewhere, serving a sober reminder to mall operators, retailers, and others to take steps to protect their employees and customers from active shooters and similar threats. In a video released on February 21, 2015, a militant group based in Somalia called for attacks on shopping centers in the US, UK, Canada, and France.
The US Department of Homeland Security said it was “not aware of any specific, credible plots” against a US shopping center, however, authorities have said they are assessing potential threats. The deadliest politically motivated attack on a shopping mall occurred in September 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. Over four days, armed assailants killed at least 67 people and wounded more than 175, according to news reports.
Regardless of the motivation, a violent attack by an active shooter(s) represents a chilling prospect for any organization. In a short span, with little or no warning, an attack can cause significant harm to employees, customers, and organizations’ operations, and reputations.
Here are three steps your organization can take now to prepare.
- Build robust emergency response and crisis management plans. Your organization should have well-tested emergency response and crisis management plans in place. Plans should be developed with input from relevant stakeholders, including local law enforcement and your human resources staff. Among other topics, these plans should:
- Address how employees will communicate with each other, customers, security personnel, law enforcement, and corporate headquarters.
- Determine strategies for locking down and/or evacuating all employees and customers.
- Ensure employees know what to expect from law enforcement or other first responders in an emergency.
- Define expectations for corporate-level teams, including crisis communications, humanitarian assistance, and recovery.
- Be prepared to handle the aftermath. You should be ready to assist employees, customers, and others after a violent event. For example, you may wish to provide counseling to injured and affected employees, customers, and their families. Meanwhile, effective community and media relations can help mall operators and retailers that fall victim to an attack to manage their reputations. This is especially important for organizations with multiple locations — an event at one location can ripple across the enterprise.
- Review your insurance program. Mall operators, retailers, and others should review their insurance coverage to understand which policies may apply and prepare for any claims. Relevant forms of insurance coverage may include:
- Workers’ compensation and employers liability policies, which should respond in the event of an injury to or death of an employee.
- General liability coverage, which may respond in the event of an injury to or death of a customer or other third party.
- Umbrella and excess casualty coverage, which may be triggered depending on the size of a loss and may provide funding for crisis response expenses.
- Property and business interruption policies, which should respond to any physical property damage.
For more on this topic, read Addressing the Risk of an Active Shooter.