Active Shooter & Workplace Violence in the Restaurant Industry

Restaurants Mitigate Violence Risks

The numbers keep rising.  Active shooter and mass shooting incidents continue to soar along with deaths and injuries from these events.  The past few years have shown a significantly increased frequency of events and the prevalence is no longer something that can be ignored.

In just the past week (5/17/21 - 5/24/21) there have been 17 mass shootings (defined as 4 or more people shot or injured not including the shooter) during which 18 people were killed and 90 were injured.

The high-profile mass shootings in Atlanta, where eight people were killed on March 16th, and the deadly March 22nd Colorado shooting that took the lives of ten people, were among the more widely reported incidents of late.  Four more active shooter events in the first two weeks of April 2021 (California, Maryland, Texas, and Tennessee) and another the following week at FedEx in Indianapolis have left Americans in shock and despair, and also in fear.

Mental health experts say the effects these horrific events have on the American public are amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gun Violence Archive statistics show mass shootings rose from 417 in 2019 to 611 in 2020, including 95 incidents in June of 2020 alone. With 230 incidents occurring in the first few months of 2021 (as of May 24th), active shooter incidents are 53% higher than the 1st-quarter average of the past four years2.

RESTAURANT OWNERS, The Responsibility Is Yours

As restaurant owners and managers, it is your responsibility to ensure a safe environment for your employees and patrons.  It is crucial to take steps to protect from hostile persons entering your establishments and it is also important to remember that many incidents of workplace violence occur from within the employee population. When hostile behavior goes unchecked or ignored, it can have devastating consequences. These can be severe and wide-ranging; from lost productivity, employee turnover, reputational damage, lawsuits, and even workplace violence3.

Recognizing the warning signs of workplace violence and taking action is essential. It’s important that the focus is not just on individual illegal behaviors, but more broadly on toxic workplace cultures that create unproductive and frustrated employees. When unaddressed, toxic cultures and workplace behaviors like bullying, harassment, and discrimination can escalate toward violence.  In fact, MOST ACTIVE SHOOTER situations involve perpetrators with a direct connection to the business under attack.

ACTIONS Restaurant Owners Can Take

There are actions that you can take to mitigate the risk of violent scenarios. Evaluate the workplace and identify both physical and administrative adjustments that you can make proactively:

  • Institute policies and procedures that indicate a zero-tolerance for workplace violence/bullying/aggression and provide direction for reporting and handling incidents.  Many companies are implementing anonymous reporting systems so that all the reporting of bad behavior can more easily be encouraged without fear of retaliation from the person being reported upon.
  • Provide training in defusing or de-escalating potentially violent situations, and inform employees of the risks of workplace violence.  It is also important to implement distinct repercussions for those who violate standard work protocols as it relates to violent behavior.
  • Consider the risk of assault when directing workers to take out garbage, store items in external areas, transport money, etc.
  • Employees must know what to do BEFORE an incident occurs.  Create a crisis response plan that describes procedures to follow in the event of an emergency, which should include evacuation routes and exits or building lockdown procedures depending on the situation, and have the plan posted for all staff and patrons to access.  We will discuss the specifics of a communications plan with first responders shortly.

Insurance Protection Options

In addition to impacting the well-being of your employees and tenants, incidents of violence can also disrupt normal business functions, potentially leading to business interruption, property damage, and other types of large losses that require the proper insurance protection.

Insurance Coverage for Mass Shootings is now a policy that can be purchased that can cover secondary actors, but be aware of exclusions.  Business interruption insurance coverage may also apply if an organization is forced to close and is affected as a result. Large losses that include business interruption are generally measured by insurers through their forensic accounting analyses of an organization’s historic profit and loss for the applicable period of time. Your broker should help you with this process.

Coverage arising out of an active shooter tragedy could include allegations that you were partially or completely negligent before, during, or after the shooting. Potential allegations could include:

  • Failure to ensure a reasonably safe environment
  • Failure to protect third parties
  • Liability due to consequences you took to protect third parties and/or your property

It is important to note that each policy excludes “expected or intended” injuries caused by you.  Given this, it is vitally important that you understand the concept of foreseeable risk so that you can best protect your employees and your business.

Creating a Crisis Response Plan

Have your employees had active shooter response training?  Do they know when to run, when to hide, and when to fight?  Do you have hardened rooms or structures available for employees should a shooter enter your restaurant.  Do your employees have a way to easily contact law enforcement should a shooter engage with your establishment?  Reviewing your Active Attack Protocols TODAY can save a lot of lives should such tragedy strike your business.

Technology Is Your Friend

During an active attack, your safety plan is in place to keep you alive as long as possible, until help arrives to eliminate the threat and resolve the hostile situation. In the event of any report of an active shooter or attacker, a rapid response by law enforcement is key.   This is ASR's bread and butter.

ASR Alert Systems is a patented state-of-the-art critical incident response technology specializing in the field of alert notifications to Law Enforcement and First Responders in the event of an active shooter or other crisis. Our critical incident response technology uses hard-mounted buttons, mobile pendants, and an optional mobile phone application to DIRECTLY communicate with first responders in the area to significantly decrease response times to an active threat or crisis situation.

Having dedicated hardware that is readily accessible and easy to operate is KEY when it comes to life-saving tools. By having a dedicated button that is mounted in convenient locations or wearing a pendant, staff can activate an alert and provide law enforcement with all of the necessary information to respond with the PRESS OF A BUTTON. By depressing the ASR Alert Button, Law Enforcement Dispatch know the location name, address, location within the facility, and type of emergency. 

The ASR Threat Alert system skips over the need to call 911 and communicates directly with police dispatch as well as law enforcement in the area of the attack.  Rather than victims calling 911 and giving detailed information about what is happening (when they likely should be remaining as quiet as possible), the ASR Threat Alert System does this automatically with the push of a button. 


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ASR offers the best commercial critical incident response technology solution in the industry. Our reliable and redundant methods of alerting persons who are in danger, as well as providing the fastest notification to law enforcement by communicating directly with police dispatch are not matched and we hold the patent on this direct communication technology.

In summary, having a crisis management plan that you practice periodically is crucial. It does not take much time to create and what it can save you can be priceless. Unfortunately, senseless acts of violence are often unavoidable even with the best practices in place.  Having a plan, practicing the plan, and having state-of-the-art communication is your recipe for the best possible outcome should tragedy strike.  Let ASR show you how to prepare should an active shooter or violent situation happen in your building.

Have questions or wish to schedule a virtual demonstration? Please contact us below.