The Legality of Active Threat Situations

by | Aug 13, 2022 | Active Threat, Crisis Management, Emergency Action Plan, Workplace Violence

If an active shooter incident occurred, and your company did not have an emergency action plan (EAP), would your company be held responsible for loss of life, injury, or emotional trauma caused by an event? Do you have emergency evacuation plans and / or sheltering protocols? And, what happens after the event? Will you release a statement to the media? If so, who is the designated point of contact for your company and what should the point of contact say?

Pre and post-incident preparedness are important for your employees safety and because of the legal ramifications attached to active threat situations. If you can’t answer the above questions, your company may need help.


An emergency action plan (EAP) is a written document detailing what an employee should do in an emergency like an active threat situation. This EAP should include procedures for:

  • Reporting a fire or other emergency
  • Evacuating from the facility including the type of evacuation and designated exit routes
  • Evacuating for any employees who had to remain behind to operate any critical plant operations
  • Being able to account for all employees after evacuating
  • Helping with a rescue or medical duties
  • Listing the names or job titles of any employees whom others can contact to get more information from about the EAP

Other requirements include:

  • Having an employee notification system
  • Training to assist in an evacuation
  • Reviewing the EAP
  • Noting when the plan was developed, the employee assigned to the job, the employee’s responsibilities change and if the plan has changed

“You should have someone review your employee handbook,” Chilton Wise, an attorney, advised. Do you have anything about weapons, about reporting? Who does someone report this [threats, violence, etc.] to? Are there privacy issues? Do you do background checks? Do you do random drug testing?”

“If you don’t have a plan, you could be cited by OSHA,” Wise continued.

This document is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and there are serious legal ramifications if your company doesn’t have one. For example:

A well-developed EAP will also think about risk management and threat analysis.

Risk management includes in-house security processes that can answer these questions:

  • Is there a meeting with the human resources (HR) department when there is an employee complaint about threats of workplace violence?
  • Does HR bring in employees and question them about the complaint?
  • Does law enforcement ever need to get involved if employees are being fired/reprimanded?

If your facility doesn’t have security processes in place including a detailed report of your security features and how effective they are, then a plan of action is needed.

One of our expert team members will come to your property and walk you through your building. Having an outside opinion on this matter can benefit you in the long-term, even if you already have a security team in place. Your security professionals walk the building thousands of times a day; they’re used to the building they see. It’s only natural to overlook areas. Doing a walkthrough with a third-party point of view will give you and your security professionals a bird’s eye view of your security features and their effectiveness. Not only will our team offer verbal recommendations, but we can also provide a written report documenting your building’s weak spots and possible options for improvement.

Next, we look at the physical security of the facility as a whole through a threat analysis. Throughout this analysis, we look at:

  • Could a stranger access your facility from the street?
  • How far could this stranger get before being stopped?
  • What does physical security look like such as door locks, passwords, keywords, security guards, etc?
  • Do your security professionals or staff ask questions like ‘are you looking for someone’ or ‘can I help you find something’?

A threat analysis should be used to plan a course of action, including:

  • What actions will be taken in an active threat situation?
  • Who in the team is responsible for what?
  • When do specific actions take place?
  • Where in the building will the action take place?
  • What has to happen for the plan of action to occur?
  • What resources does the team need to carry this plan out?


After an event has occurred, there is a list of things that you will need to think about, including:

  • Notifying next of kin
  • Drafting a media release
  • Identifying who in your company will be law enforcement and media’s contact
  • Deciding what to release to the media’
  • Developing a plan for all employees on how to interact with the police immediately after the event
  • Notifying all administrative employees on how to comply and interact with law enforcement during the investigation
  • Establishing counseling for any or all employees
  • Developing a timeframe for getting your business back up and running.


At SaferSite, we work with the experts.

“If a company violates a statute or doesn’t have a plan and something [an event that results in a workplace death or injury] does happen, a lawyer could prima facie [presume]  that the lack of planning contributed to the employee’s death or injury,” Wise said. “Now, of course, that lawyer would need to prove that.”

At SaferSite, we are firm believers that companies should and do have an obligation to prepare for a threat before it happens. We understand that this subject-active threat survival- is off-putting. You and most likely, your employees, don’t think that this type of thing could happen at your workplace or within your community.

“There is a different plan for each company, and it does depend on associated risks,” Wise said. “I am not going to tell you what your policies should be, but I can tell you that if you have policies you should follow them.”

And, we agree with Mr. Wise. However, if you don’t already have these plans in place, our experts, who are comprised of former law enforcement members, federal agents, military and Department of Defense instructors, that can help you through this journey. Our vast team of employees come from many walks of life and will showcase many different perspectives relevant to your environment that you might not have.

If this sounds like something you are interested in but need more information about, we invite you to speak with Nick DeMedici, Executive Director, Former Active Shooter Instructor, West Virginia State Police, to learn more about SaferSite.

If you are ready to do more than just check the box for your employees, let us know by calling 844-244-2255.