During a recent walk through Times Square to Penn Station in New York City, the heavily armed presence of the NYPD in the crossroads of the world, as well as the National Guard at the station, was a sobering reminder of violence throughout America.
The NYPD presence at the U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square was a preventative measure influenced by the reprehensible shooting rampage on July 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This tragedy took the lives of four Marines and a sailor.
Our flag flies at half-staff in the heart of every American patriot.
Aside from this incident, depraved rampages continue nationwide with headlines including the following:
- 9 Killed in Mass Shooting at Historic Black Church in South Carolina
- Five Family Members Murdered in Modesto, California
- 12 Killed, 59 Wounded in Shooting at Colorado Theater
- 20 “Beautiful Little Kids” Shot Dead in Connecticut School
- Boston Marathon Attack Kills 3, Injures 264
- Washington Navy Yard Shooting Leaves 12 Dead
Preventing Violence: Practical Steps
During my violence prevention initiatives, I often ask attendees representing schools, colleges, houses of worship, and corporation’s questions including the following:
- Is there a violence prevention policy in place and is it continually updated and followed?
- Do you have an active threat assessment team that includes a law enforcement liaison?
- Have you conducted violence response training including tabletop, partial scale, and full scale scenarios?
- Has your facility had a recent board certified security vulnerability assessment?
- Are your security personnel trained and certified according to state requirements with additional initiatives that exceed the status quo?
- What type of training have you implemented for those entrusted to your care on issues including domestic violence, warning signs, security protocols, terrorism, crisis management, harassment, bullying, and active shooter?
Active Shooter Tips
The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area, typically through the use of firearms.”
The quick reference guide of the agency highlights these points:
- Victims are selected at random
- Event is unpredictable and evolves quickly
- Knowing what to do can save lives
The guide also accentuates that when an active shooter is in your vicinity, you must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with the situation with three options of run, hide, or fight.
It is imperative that those responsible for security continually initiate assessments, training, and countermeasures that cover physical, personnel, procedural, and informational security.
Violence Is Preventable
The continuous rampages throughout America must inspire action that prevents empowerment of those seeking to inflict harm.
The attack against military personnel in Tennessee demands military facility security enhancements including policy review of arming military personnel at recruitment centers and military sites.
The media also has an ethical responsibility. It must never expose information during an incident that can endanger the public and emergency responders. The media must also avoid empowering a shooter and copycat scenarios by publishing propaganda and photos that immortalizes violent fantasies, ideologies, and actions.
As a spokesman for a coalition of Virginia Tech families, I found it appalling that the shooter’s self-serving depravity was served by publishing photos and ramblings that served his ambition for the spotlight.
This irresponsible sensationalism, compounded by incompetent investigative reporting, lacked compassion, empathy, and sensitivity for the victims and their families.
My concerns were validated by Michael Welner, a renowned forensic psychiatrist who stated on national television that broadcasting the Virginia Tech killers “public relations tape” was a “social catastrophe.”
Our First Amendment, upholding the sacrosanct principle of freedom of the press, is a heartbeat of American democracy.
But this freedom is not without responsibility.
Irresponsible media coverage can fan the flames of dysfunction in demented minds seeking the spotlight.
Just as responsible media would protect the privacy of minors involved with a crime, or sexual assault victims, glorifying violent incidents is also irresponsible.
America must establish a renewed moral compass that empowers prevention, compassion, and empathy rather than sensationalism, glorification, and insensitivity.
When moral principles are complemented by sound security measures, our nation is on the path to violence prevention and reawakening the nation.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com