Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents participate in a training exercise utilizing armored vehicles designated for Special Response Teams
One reason is apprehension about attacks at events scheduled from coast to coast in June as part of Gay Pride Month. Or trepidation about other summertime bombshells from out of the blue at seemingly safe venues such as the boardwalk or a concert at a park. Another reason is that America has become the land of the free and often fearful, stressed by increasingly frequent mass killings.
For insights about how individuals can stay safe, or at least safer, UC Berkeley Public Affairs turned to Bruce O. Newsome. A lecturer with the campus's International and Area Studies program, Newsome teaches courses on global security risks, counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, intelligence and counterintelligence and international conflict.
Newsome also is author of several books, including the 2014 A Practical Introduction to Security and Risk Management, which has a chapter devoted to personal security.
Just how is personal security defined, as opposed to public security? Can we measure our safety by degrees or percentage points?
Personal security refers to the individual person's security. Personal security obviously is affected by the security of whatever the individual engages in: society, business, educational or recreational activities, infrastructure (such as bridges that may fail), sites, information and communication technologies (such as a computer connected to the Internet) and transport (private car driving is the riskiest public activity that most Americans engage in).
The correct way to assess one's own personal security is to think about exposure: if you are not exposed to something, it is not a source of risk. Consequently, one can control one's own risk by reducing our exposure to the sources of risk, for instance, by spending less time on the roads or in high-crime areas.
From what you know about what transpired at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando or the Bataclan in Paris last November, what else could patrons there have done to protect themselves?
The first step is to decide where to go. You may not want to ask yourself whether a site is safe, when you are used to asking whether it is fun, good value or serves good food, but you can also ask yourself whether you are comfortable with the site's security. If you think weapons, malicious people and narcotics are entering that site, should you?
Having selected your site, and been so unfortunate as to be exposed to an idiot with a gun and murderous intent, the short-form advice is run, hide, fight: run if you can escape; if you can't escape, then hide from the attacker; if you can’t run or hide, fight back. I give more detailed advice here: http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2015/11/18/surviving-new-terrorism-in-10-steps/.
How helpful is it for workplaces to train workers to practice the "active shooter" scenario?
The event is extremely unlikely, but the potential harm due to such an event is severe, so it is a high risk, to which any workplace is exposed, so all workplaces should be practicing to respond. As with any training, we should worry about making the risk worse by training incorrectly ("negative training"), so if a workplace decides on such training it should get expert advice, and plenty of officials are available to help for free, without need to pay private contractors.