We sat down with advisory board member Jin Kim to discuss the role technology will play in security and how workplaces should plan for the new risk environment in 2022 and beyond. What we learned: we should anticipate – and plan for – a continuation of (or even a rise in) the high levels of violence we’ve been seeing across the country.
For a bit of background, Jin is widely recognized as a subject matter expert in active shooter and targeted violence attacks. He retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2018 and is a twenty-three-year veteran of the FBI’S New York Division. He served as the Active Shooter Coordinator on the Crisis Management Unit and was the leading authority directing active shooter & workplace violence preparedness, resiliency, and training, for the FBI and its corporate and private sector partnerships.
Today, he provides consultation, substantive training, and expert witness services to leading corporations and businesses, financial and banking institutions, K-12 schools and higher education universities, hospitals/healthcare facilities, professional sports teams & sporting venues, hotels, non-profit organizations, and public safety departments.
Jin is the Founder & Principal of the PerSec Academy, LLC, specializing in Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Resiliency Training and Management.
Q. What can we expect the next 12 months to bring?
A. Based on the unprecedented risk landscape we’re all facing today, sadly the up-tempo and increase public violence will continue. The underlying factors and ramifications of COVID has brought a whole new realm and spectrum of risk in our society, which has been driven by a shift in how people have been affected and ultimately what pushes some people past their breaking point, and towards violence. What’s behind that shift? I think all the uncertainty and challenges brought on by the past two years – the economy and loss of jobs/income, isolation and mental health/social wellness, increased anxiety are common stressors that are manifesting towards alarming violence.
As a result of our modern complexities in which we find ourselves, the threats and risks themselves will become more complex.
Q. How are organizations shifting how they think about risk?
A. Let’s first look at this through the lens of the education industry. We are seeing a dramatic rise in people exhibiting inappropriate and threatening behavior in and around schools. From remote learning and mask mandates to critical race theory, schools have become battle grounds for the tensions that have boiled over within the country. Now, schools and school districts have to continuously think about that individual(s) – who probably didn’t care about the school board two years ago – who might now pose as a safety risk to school personnel.
Not only are we witnessing a sharp rise in the number of threats, but they are coming from people and places where previously they would not, such as social media disruption campaigns. How do you plan and manage for threats that are indirect and vague? That’s the challenge education is facing right now. They are forced to think about and plan for the risks they might not even be able to identify, which is extremely challenging and complex.
Q. Why are we seeing so much violence now?
A. I think people forget how significant it’s been in the US over the past 55 years; some of our most tragic incidents were well before Columbine in 1999. One significant change since Columbine is that we have a news cycle that never stops. No matter what time of day or night it is, you can turn on the radio, TV or go online and you will be able to find daily reporting about the latest shooting or gun violence attack.
One thing this post-Columbine period has ushered in is an era where at-risk or potential actors are inspired and validated by each other. There is an unfortunate volume of past incidents from which they can learn and study. I think collectively we vastly underestimate offenders and the segment of our population that are at-risk and become prone to the pathway to violence. Until we can understand and accept that they are among us in our everyday routine and intervene prior to the violent act, this problem will never go away.
Q: Do you think we’ll see adoption of security protocols and procedures where there previously was hesitance?
A. Absolutely. There is a sense of urgency based on this new spectrum of risk. Organizations and businesses across industries are, in a sense, prioritizing measures that mitigate the risk of an active shooter incident. This awareness and acceptance that no institution or industry is exempt from this modern-day threat has accelerated a contemporary view of safety and security measures, from entrance screening to active shooter training.
Q: Is there an industry that stands out as needing to rethink its security posture?
A: I think retail is poised to make some drastic changes and upgrades to how they address the safety and security within their stores. For them, I think it will start from a place of understanding what modern-day threat is – leveraging data and technology to establish and maintain a macro landscape of where and how threats enter their space. Understand the volume and frequency of firearms being introduced into retail space can certainly help design and implement modern-day safety strategies that addresses their unique environment.
Q: What do businesses need to be thinking about?
A: There are two types of threats: insider and outsider. Many organizations try to prevent outsiders from coming in, when the reality is, most of the incidents are conducted by insiders, such as a current or former employee or student. In many of these cases, the offender has no exit strategy after the attack. They are consumed and propelled to the attack and not concerned with the consequences of their actions, and go in with the goal of leaving as much damage and destruction in their wake as possible.
Being aware of the outsider vs. insider threat and the factors that may lead to violence, management and human resources (HR) has a critical role in de-escalating conflict and intervening in the workplace. The risks workplaces face today are becoming more complex for and require enterprise-wide synergy and collaboration. Having only traditional access control security measures without proactively managing internal conflict between employees, for example, creates a risk vulnerability which a disgruntled individual can leverage.
I anticipate – and am already seeing in my consulting work and active shooter expert witness services – executives of businesses of all sizes and industries very concerned with the safety of their offices, employees, vendors and customers, as they plan to return to the office and physical environment. And employees are driving this concern. Where it used to be (if at all) a line item in the budget, it is now becoming a regular operational priority amongst executives to make every effort to proactively manage the evolving and modern-day risk landscape.
To read more about Jin, visit his LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.