Pete Eliadis is officer.com‘s Mass Violence Incidents Contributor. Imagine handing that business card to your daughter’s prospective private school headmaster. Still, someone’s got to tackle the issues raised by spree killings and other large-scale horrors, and Eliadis does it better than anyone. His columns offer a practical, no-nonsense take on terror, encouraging readers to think the unthinkable. And then prepare for it.
To that end, the 17-year police vet founded Intelligence Consulting Partners (ICP). The company trains law enforcement and civilian officials in skills ranging from Parcel Interdiction to VIP Protection Detail. ICP runs an eight-hour course entitled Preparing Your School for the Active Shooter.
Given the recent Students for Concealed Carry empty holster protest, and the ongoing debate over students and teachers’ right to bear arms, I dropped Eliades an email. When I spoke with him earlier today, I asked the security maven why he believes students, teachers and administrators shouldn’t carry firearms.
“Aside from issues of accuracy and training, there’s a lot we can do short of arming students and teachers,” Eliadis told me. “We should do as much as we can before we allow students access to lethal force.”
Eliadis specializes in training school administrators and campus police in reacting to active shooter incidents. But he also teaches what he calls “target hardening”: making it less easy for criminals to prey upon school and college students.
“It’s all about awareness,” Eliadis insists. “Students must be taught to maintain an awareness of their surroundings, assess the threat levels and act appropriately. They should know when to go around with friends [and] how to avoid dangerous situations.”
But how can a student avoid a spree killer? Eliadis believes prevention is the key.
“I can’t recall a single incident where there wasn’t a clue—on Facebook, in class, somewhere—that an [eventual] active shooter was potentially violent. The community must be aware and respond before the threat before it becomes lethal.”
This “interdiction equals prevention” theory presupposes that non-law enforcement community members could identify a potential “lone wolf” attacker. It’s also based on the assumption that these amateur sleuths/psychologists would alert authorities to the threat. Who would would then take action. Effective action.
What are the odds? Eliadis identifies the heart of the problem.
“Society needs to stop worrying about getting sued,” Eliadis says, defending his prophylactic position. “And start worrying about protecting each other.”
Again, what are the odds?
That said, you’ve got to start somewhere. Eliadis believes an armed student population is a perfect example of putting the cart before the horse. It’s one of those “first things first” deals.
“Schools must get out of the ‘it can’t happen here’ mindset,” the police trainer tells me. “They’ve got get through the denial stage so they can stop being soft targets.” So why haven’t they? “Some have, some haven’t. Some don’t want to address this thing because they think it will affect enrollment.”
That’s a pretty cynical view. But Eliadis is, above all, a realist. “There may come a time when we need to arm everyone,” he says with a sigh. “I don’t rule it out completely.” So how will we know when that is? “I don’t know,” he admits. “But we’re not there yet.”