Managing ‘Domestically Based Workplace Violence’ Including Active Threat Incidents

Managing ‘Domestically Based Workplace Violence’ Including Active Threat Incidents

Welcome to this article designed to connect you to options for managing domestically based workplace violence and active threat incidents in learning institutions and other workplaces.  While ‘active threat incidents’ predominate in the United States it is not exclusively a US problem.  The guidance given in this article has transferable value for any educational establishment in any location.  Thank you for taking the time to review this content.  Our organization has developed and implemented a model for addressing the risk in a proactive manner. Please review the following paragraphs for a better understanding of the layers of risk mitigation we can provide.


“Proximity to the first point of contact is extremely important. This is referred to as being on the “X”. If you are on the “X” you must do everything to get off it. If you are near it, you must get away from it. Run is clearly the best option here as it will do you no good to hide as the assailant is close and will get to you within the first 8 minutes (Law enforcement response time is between 5 to 8 minutes in the United States). If your location at the time of the attack can be barricaded, then hide and barricade.  ‘Hide’ is where crime prevention through environmental design enters into the equation.  Open office environs don’t lend themselves well to this tactic, and this must be accounted for in your planning.  If hide and barricade is not feasible, then Run is still the best option. “Fight” is always the last option for non-law enforcement people because to do so puts you at great risk, but it is still better than doing nothing. This remains a deeply personal decision and not one that anyone else can dictate to someone”.

Doug Maynard President Lions Gate Risk Management Group – Retired RCMP, Superintendent in Charge of all Tactical Assets in the Province of British Columbia, including Emergency Response, Public Order, Dive Teams, Negotiators, Bomb Disposal and former President of the National Delivery Group for Critical Incident Command for all Police Agencies.


At Lions Gate we are strong advocates for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), but CPTED techniques alone will not address domestic based workplace violence, active threats, active assailants, even if it needs to be a core strand within the solution.  It is part of minimizing the probability of a threat or emergency and comes in under mitigation and preparedness.  The two other elements in an end to end package, and part of your business continuity plan, are response to mitigate the impact if an event occurs, and recovery from the emergency to resume normal operations.


The Lions Gate Risk Management Group Organizational Security Risk Management, Maturity Model (OSRM) incorporates mitigation and preparedness, including risk assessment and within risk mitigation, the application of CPTED Techniques.  Then response and recovery in an overarching security program.  It is the ideal end to end package to meet the requirements of any client, in this instance, an educational institution.  With OSRM there is an Assessment Phase, an Implementation Phase and a Sustainment Phase.  The Lions Gate OSRM locks in and includes those broader and applicable additional services that would complete an end to end package to address domestic based workplace violence, active threats, active assailants.


We use the term ‘domestically based workplace violence’ because it gets to the core of what an active assailant or active threat incident actually is.  This is despite the fact that almost all threats and adversaries at educational institutions particularly in the United States have opted to use a firearm or firearms, so unarguably the ‘active shooter’ descriptor currently used, carries weight, as a reference, but this should change.  Our preference is to avoid using the term ‘active shooter’ and use the more encompassing term ‘active threat’.

To explain our rationale and as an example; “How would schools mitigate a change in active threat tactic to a domestic hostile vehicle attack?”  More common globally now, and this would certainly need to be in focus whether gun controls/accessibility, in the US tighten or not.  CPTED, quite logically, should play a significant role here in new build and renovations at existing educational institutions. Just as important is understanding the differences between politically or religiously motivated terrorists and the domestically based workplace violence perpetrator.


Lions Gate recognizes the risk of exposure to civil litigation that exists for educational institutions.  The regularity of active threat incidents in US schools, suggests that this should be a core consideration for all school Principals and their teams, and not just in the US. Further, occupier liability needs to be understood by educational institutions, as it relates to a responsibility to train, and have plans to minimize risk, to staff and students. Schools need to be able to demonstrate that reasonable and prudent steps were taken to prevent incidents. Essentially having responses to hand for three burning questions post event.

“What did you know?” “When did you know it?” “What did you do about it?”


Lions Gate Risk Management Group’s Path to Excellence Program is based on a proven law enforcement crisis management process which can be applied for educational institutions which face potential disruptions due to security threats.  It is a process which has simplified the lines of reporting and communications during organizational crisis and incidents as they develop.  It assists decision makers by providing the tools needed to assess risk, manage resources, plan for contingencies, communicate desired outcomes and coordinate a response across agencies.

The most effective means of ‘managing active threat incidents’ is to prevent them occurring in the first place.  This article signposts numerous interlocking and interdependent elements, both proactive and reactive, that we feel need to be present in any solution. These are elements that will allow an educational institution to demonstrate, under challenge, that their security posture is, or was, both reasonable and prudent, based on identified risk and known threats. The total elimination of a ‘domestically based workplace violence’ event is unrealistic; because too many variables play into incidents. That is why data needs to be carefully analyzed with respect to and to guide decision making. Going down scenario rabbit holes in shaping plans will be less effective than a holistic ‘all hazard’ plan. There may well be some consistencies that link incidents, but each incident will roll out differently.


Strategic Decision Support is an intelligence led approach that brings together analysis and strategic decision making. In the context of an educational institution, this is where specific information for example; stressors and concerning behaviours, can be located through open sources, analyzed and compartmentalized. The ability to direct intervention/s, drawing on up to date intelligence, or the timely identification of an escalation in concerning behaviours, could save lives.


What is clear based on our combined research into subject matter studies and through open source is that there is some high-quality data out there that can inform emergency management through all phases from mitigation, preparedness to response and recovery. Particularly, how any educational institution can proactively position, to minimize the likelihood of experiencing a domestically based workplace violence event.

While the framework will be the same from location to location, the shape of any plan will be site specific.  The three core references below, input from our partners and the specific input of Doug Maynard, an extremely highly qualified subject matter expert on our team, guided our problem solving and critical thinking.

If you apply subject matter expertise and experience into the mix, you can guide planning from a more practical and experiential perspective. The knowledge of what works and what does not, can be crucial in planning and then in response.

Lions Gate Risk Management Group subject matter experts are security professionals drawn from ex law enforcement, military, business, academia, and designing out crime.  In combination and in partnership we bring a breadth of skill sets to the table.

Please feel free to contact Lions Gate Risk Management Group to Request More Information.

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