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Mass shootings ‘not 100 percent preventable,’ expert says

“No level of screening, no level of monitoring will ever be enough to bring us to 100 percent prevention,” said one criminal justice expert.

As the nation reels from the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday — which was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history with at least 58 killed and more than 500 injured — many are wondering if the tragedy was preventable.

The short answer is sadly no, according to Chelsea A. Binns, an assistant professor in the department of security, fire and emergency management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. 

“No level of screening, no level of monitoring will ever be enough to bring us to 100 percent prevention,” Binns told Metro Monday.

It’s a bleak reality, especially in a time when mass shootings are more commonplace — and always top of mind for security professionals.

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“It’s true that active shooter incidents have risen drastically since 2000, yet mass shootings are still more rare,” Binns said. “But nevertheless, they are a serious concern for any security professional, and they actively work to plan and prepare for — and also prevent and detect these events.”

Metro: Do we know how many incidents may have been prevented due to such security efforts?

Chelsea A. Binns: We never fully know as an industry how well we’re doing in preventing these tragedies because it’s difficult to quantify crimes averted or thwarted due to security measures. In other words, how many shootings such as this didn’t happen as a result of security measures, heightened vigilance, tips from the public regarding suspicious activity, etc.?

Beyond metal detectors and bag searches, is there more venues and event planners can do?

In addition to stringent security measures and heightened vigilance, one of the best is public awareness, educating the public regarding their value in crime prevention. Many crimes are solved and also thwarted due to tips from the public. In New York City, we have the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, and this exists for a reason — because it works.

Is it best to flag anything and everything you see that seems suspicious?

Yes it is, and any law enforcement professional will tell you that they’d rather hear a tip however innocuous a member of the public might think it is. You never know what value it has for law enforcement. You never know who law enforcement might be looking at that point in time or whether they have a heightened suspicion that you’re now confirming for them. Tips are always valued.

Has your curriculum changed in the wake of these recent incidents?

Students are made aware of the statistics, and incidents that have taken place in the past do serve as an educational tool for students, who will examine the preventative measures that were in place and the response and determine what has worked and perhaps what didn’t work to gain a better understanding of security procedures going forward.

Do they undergo field exercises or mock events in their training?

There absolutely are exercises such as those that are conducted, and it’s a part of any corporate security repertoire or any emergency management repertoire to actively prepare for these events, no matter how rare, so when they do occur, there is a very well-designed and organized response and approach that follows. Whenever something like this happens, it’s not unfamiliar, no matter how rare.
 

 
 
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