Active Shooters: Is There a solution?

by Stephen Bryen

The horrible shooting in Las Vegas at a country music festival that claimed more than 58 lives and more than 500 wounded tells us clearly there is something wrong with how we make concerts, public spaces, sports events, clubs and buildings (including places of worship) secure.  Not only did an apparently lone gunman shoot from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel across the street, but it took police some time (the entire rampage of shooting ran 72 minutes!) before they were able to locate him. When his door was blown open the SWAT team found him dead, an apparent suicide.

We still do not know the motive behind the shooting: while the police say they don’t think the shooter, named Stephen Paddock was linked to international or domestic terrorist groups, it is also true that ISIS had this past May called for terrorist action in Las Vegas.  Now ISIS says the shooter was a recent convert to Islam and one of their “soldiers,”  but have provided no proof as yet.

But motive does not matter much when bullets are screaming by, taking lives.  Nor does motive matter to police and law enforcement when they try to shut down such a killer.

In the Las Vegas case we know that the shooter was heavily armed and was able to reload his weapons a number of times.

This tells us the first information we must pay attention to: the crucial issue in any active shooter situation is time.  The longer it takes to neutralize a shooter, the more the shooter can kill.

Police responding to Las Vegas shooting

The second problem is to locate the shooter.  If the shooter is inside a building, the problem is very hard because law enforcement has to try and figure out where the shooter is, and operate in space that is unfamiliar.

In the case of the Mandalay Bay hotel the police had to go room to room until they found the shooter.  That took (too much) time.

There are many steps that must be taken to try and prevent an active shooter from getting into a public space, and if the shooter gets in, means must be at hand to locate the shooter as quickly as possible and direct law enforcement to the place the killer is operating.

For the past three years I have been working as a mentor to an Israeli inventor who now is here in the United States.  He has quite a background: he was asked to lead the effort to put in surveillance systems around some 25 threatened Israeli villages.  His systems have saved many lives from terror attacks.  But he also saw, in his experience in Israel that surveillance systems alone are not enough to improve the chance of neutralizing an active shooter.

Many buildings in the United States have security systems, as do most casinos in a place such as Las Vegas.  The government has also put cameras around important buildings, and some churches and synagogues have them too.  But even where these systems are in place, they have little worth during the most dramatic moments when a threat is detected or an active shooter has penetrated a space.  While the cameras are good, the camera systems are of little immediate help by themselves.  The Israeli inventor, whose name is Eran Jedwab and company is called Jedvice has developed a means to turn existing camera and sensor systems into a proactive, real time, immersive system that can ride with law enforcement in the form of mobile devices and orient law enforcement to the location of the shooter.  The effect is to provide much more usable information to the police than a passive camera system, and to get them on track almost immediately.  The system automatically positions police responders to the location of the shooter or intruder.

Of course this is not a complete solution by itself, but amazingly as a bolt-on solution to existing systems it offers real and tangible advantages.  It makes it possible for law enforcement to rapidly isolate the shooter thereby saving lives; and it gives the police eyes on the target so the risk to them is less than it would otherwise be.  In November, 2015 at the Bataclan theater in Paris, terrorist shooters killed 89 people.  The police — there were hundreds of them on the scene– were blind, and did not know how to find and kill the shooters.  As a result they delayed storming the building, which is the main reason the death toll was a high as it was.  

On June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida at the Pulse nightclub, a single shooter killed 49 people.  In this situation again the police were blind and precious time was lost leading to so many deaths.

It is clear we are far behind in protecting ourselves and that existing security systems are inadequate.  While technology is far from the only answer, clearly good technology can save lives.  That is why I have become such as advocate of the Jedvice system.  Please pay attention to the video that will show you how it changes everything when it comes to security.  I strongly believe that to stop Active Shooters you need Active Security.

I realize that what I am saying can sound like an advertisement.  I have no shame about that, because the mission is so important and there is nothing comparable to the system developed by Jedvice. You are invited to judge for yourself, and to spread the word about this powerful innovation.