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Fearing active shooters, employers turn to workers to monitor their peers

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Secret Service
the Washington Navy Yard
Capital Gazette
the Department of Homeland Security’s
the Secret Service’s
the University of Southern California
the Henry Pratt Co.
the Kane County State’s
Mueller Water Products
the Society for Human Resource Management

Matt Doherty
Brian Harrell
Hillard Heintze
Erroll Southers
Gary Martin
George H.W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
Mark Brenzinger
Christopher Geier


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His sessions focus not on what to do if someone opens fire but how to prevent a shooting from happening in the first place.[Aurora gunman, convicted of domestic violence, should not have been able to buy gun]While active-shooter training has become a standard security measure in schools, offices and houses of worship, Doherty’s work is part of an effort to teach employees how to flag possible threats and spot warning signs in their co-workers before they turn violent.“Workplace violence doesn’t happen at random or out of the blue,” said Brian Harrell, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant director for infrastructure security. is critical to any prevention program.”So companies are turning to people like Doherty, who used to run the Secret Service’s Threat Assessment Center and now works at the Chicago-based security risk management firm Hillard Heintze.He teaches employees how to watch for the missed and mishandled warning signs that have preceded some mass shootings: co-workers who seem particularly angry, who make threatening remarks or who react inappropriately to normal workplace situations.If an employee thinks something is “off” with a colleague, Doherty said, they are probably right. When situations escalate, businesses can enlist firms like Hillard Heintze to interview the employee of concern or review their social media to develop a risk assessment.The idea isn’t to get people in trouble, Doherty said, but to sound the alarm well before a crisis.“Not every single case is the next shooter,” Doherty, 60, told the partners and managers at Chicago-based consulting firm Sikich during a recent training session. The gunman showed up at the Henry Pratt Co. facility on Feb. 15, telling co-workers he was worried about being fired because of a safety violation the previous day, according to a report on the shooting released by the Kane County State’s Attorney in late April.He told one person, “If I get fired, I’m going to kill every motherf----- in here” and “blow police up,” the report said.[Active shooters usually get their guns legally and target specific victims, FBI says]The co-worker never reported the statement because the attacker had a habit of “making ‘off the wall’ statements,” the report said.According to the report, the attacker — Gary Martin, 45 — started shooting shortly after being told the company “would begin the termination process.” He killed four people in the meeting, including a 21-year-old intern on his first day, and injured the fifth, the report said.

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