Seattle-area leaders and community members learned about armed crisis de-escalation Wednesday (Sept. 11) at Crossroads Bible Church.
The event was collaboratively led by Church Mutual Insurance Company and partner organizations Secure Education Consultants (SEC) and the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter Evacuate) Training Institute.
The purpose of the event was to help church, school and nonprofit personnel become familiar with preparatory measures that can be taken to ensure increased survival during a violent criminal incident. The gathering lasted for about five hours. It was made up of a handful of presentations led by representatives from the featured groups and a panel/Q&A discussion.
Guy Russ, the assistant vice president of risk control at Church Mutual, said the event — available throughout the United States — came to fruition about two and a half years ago. Russ said he and his Church Mutual colleagues were cognizant of the upsurge in armed intruder incidents in the country. They felt that, as a company, it needed to help its clients (mostly church organizations) do something about it.
“This is exactly the event we needed to start taking action,” Russ said. “Not only is it an event [attendees] appreciate but it gives them actionable information they can go back to their organizations with.”
As an insurance company, Church Mutual offers catastrophic response coverage as part of its proven protector package.
Dan Savage, SEC’s vice president of operations, presented first at Wednesday’s event. Savage has 36 years of experience in law enforcement, serving in various municipalities and departments.
“I saw the worst of what my community had to offer on a regular basis,” he said.
SEC was founded by former secret service agents. According to Russ, the group takes “a view toward threat assessment that’s very comprehensive and very much geared toward understanding what those risks are.” As an organization, SEC offers to train its clients on incident response that’s geared toward the resources and limitations of a given facility.
Savage noted the importance of taking precautionary measures early on rather than waiting until something happens in a community that incites action.
“We usually want preparation once we know what the issue is … there’s that expectation now that you are prepared,” he said, adding that if a community isn’t directly affected by a violent incident it might become “numb.”
In his presentation, Savage explained the motivations for violence and behaviors of concern noting what to be wary of if they suspect that someone could potentially pose a threat. He talked about how SEC can assist a client by not only preparing their organization on what actions to take in the case of an armed intruder incident but also what sorts of security plans can be developed.
“In this day and age, if there’s a threat of any type, it has to be taken seriously,” Savage said.
Brandon Rhone, the assistant director of training at ALICE, focused his presentation around the core components of the organization and discussed how the public should and shouldn’t react during a violent criminal incident. Mindset, according to Rhone, can often alter our responses in dangerous situations.
Rhone said that the “stranger danger” reaction many people are taught as children, for instance, can also be applied during life-threatening events like mass shootings. But because our mindset during a violent criminal incident typically contrasts with a run-in with a stranger, people don’t think to apply the knowledge in the same way.
He also advised the group to discuss the realities of armed intruder events with community members regardless of age or maturity.
“We’ve got to empower people to take a stake in their own survival,” Rhone said.
ALICE, according to the presentation, takes a research-based proactive approach and provides its clients with additional options to consider besides what’s normally done in a traditional lockdown situation. ALICE offers online, on-site and blended training for violent criminal incidents. For on-site training, the organization prepares clients on how to tangibly prepare through simulations.
Russ, who presented on behalf of Church Mutual after Rhone, talked about the next steps members in the audience could take: assess what’s already in place at a facility and other defining organizational characteristics; come up with a plan with potential assistance from the organizations featured at the program; implement the plan with an emphasis on continuous training.
“I want you to do something with this information … we’re here to help you do it,” Russ said.
Russ said that the information covered in the Sept. 11 event can be found online via a live recording, which has been split into excerpts.
After a panel discussion, Russ encouraged attendees to get started on making changes to their respective organizations.
“Make the decision to take action on this info,” he said.
For more information about Church Mutual, go online to its website (https://www.churchmutual.com/). For more information about ALICE training, go online to its website (https://www.alicetraining.com/). More information about SEC is online at https://secureed.com/.