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Mass Shootings: Does Preparedness = Prevention?

Organizations, small and large, face potential crisis every day. The sudden unexpectedness of a crisis can result in tragedy and ruined reputations. Mass shootings have terrorized our country staggeringly in the past two years. From a movie theatre in Aurora, CO., to Sandy Hook Elementary School, to the most recent incidents at Garden State Plaza and Los Angeles International Airport, these tragedies impede communities and scrutinize organizational public security across the country.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was targeted in a mass shooting last Friday morning. A gunman shot his way through security checkpoints, resulting in the fatality of one Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent and injuring three others, including one civilian. This attack, aimed specifically at harming TSA agents, raises questions and sparks debate about airport security. Since 9/11, LAX alone has spent $1.6 billion on improving its security systems and procedures. In addition, chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, Patrick Gannon, said this incident would be reviewed thoroughly as he expects more security adjustments to be made.

Rand Corporation’s Brian Jenkins, said, “Creating a fail-safe security perimeter for the terminal area, however, would be extremely costly and might shift attacks by those seeking to do harm to other public gathering places.” He then added, “There would be very little net security benefit. Terrorists could go somewhere else, like attack a shopping mall in Nairobi or a theater in Aurora, Colo., or Times Square. What do we really gain?”

We gain protection of lives, one of which was senselessly taken at a place where thousands of civilians visit daily. Sure, a gunman can choose a public location with less security to terrorize, but why not heighten security in as many locations as possible to help prevent acts like this, which happened to be aimed toward TSA agents?

Another debate this attack raises is whether TSA agents should be armed.  Currently, the TSA and Bureau of Prisons are the only two federal agencies whose agents are unarmed. While the Bureau of Prisons is understandably without firearms, it makes sense that the TSA allow agents to carry guns, given the recent events and threats they face daily.

President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, Marshall McClain, said that earlier this year, armed police officers were shifted from their fixed assignments at TSA checkpoints to patrolling inside and outside passenger terminals, and that patrolling officers were not near TSA screening areas when Friday’s attack occurred. That being said, couldn’t a step as small as having more patrolling officers in place have helped prevent this attack considering the TSA is not armed? Had the TSA agent who was killed had a firearm, would he still be alive? These are questions that airport security experts are facing today in hope that an attack like this can be more prepared for in the future.

Experts have long said that areas around the nine LAX terminals are vulnerable to attacks by terrorists who intend to harm the public with mass shootings and bombings. Why weren’t more precautionary security plans implemented at this particular airport, the third busiest in the country? Public outlets, businesses and organizations, both small and large, must be aware and stay aware in case tragedy strikes. With a proper pre-crisis plan and follow-up measures in place, events like the LAX mass shooting and other acts of terrorism can remain at reduced-risk for both the public and executives within these organizations.

Image by examiner.com

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