NU Online News Service, July 20, 3:32 p.m. EDT
In the wake of Friday morning’s shooting in a Colorado movie theater, risk managers must consider extra security measures to prevent a similar occurrence in the future while also avoiding a “bunker mentality” that goes against the country’s open society, says a security expert at broker Willis.
“It’s still early on in the investigation, and the facts and details are still emerging,” says Kevin Wilkes, vice president and security practice leader, Willis North America. “From a risk management point of view, of course, this is something that will need to be looked at and examined, with an eye, if at all possible, at how something like this be prevented from happening in the future.”
A man, identified as James Holmes, a graduate student at the University of Colorado Medical School in Aurora, walked into the midnight premier of the new Batman movie and opened fire on people, taking the lives of at least 12 and wounding as many as 50, according to reports.
Wilkes says, “It is hard to prevent random acts of violence from occurring,” noting that all indications point to an individual with “delusional thoughts,” not directed by animus toward any one individual or motivated by an act of terrorism.
But Wilkes says there may be some security measures that theaters can take going forward. It is known that many of the attendees were dressed in costumes. The fact that the shooter was dressed in black, and wore a mask, according to reports, left some theatergoers to believe the shooter was part of the movie experience.
In the future, one move may be to ban costumes from the theater, says Wilkes.
Theaters will also need to review their action plans in case of an emergency to ensure employees know what to do in an emergency and how to evacuate people, he says.
There are also reports, Wilkes notes, that the shooter may have entered the building through a side entrance, indicating that there may need to be better control over access points.
Security, however, is the number one concern, says Wilkes, and traditionally, whether someone from the local police or a security company is present is usually based upon the history of crime or profile of the event. Places that have a low rate of crime typically do not hire guard services. But better lighting, surveillance and metal detectors to check for dangerous objects may be something theaters may need to look at in the future, he says.
“Since 9/11, and events like Virginia Tech and Columbine, the public at large does not find increased security precautions to be a nuisance,” says Wilkes. “If anything, they have come to accept it and come to come to expect it, in terms of public safety.”
As far as terrorism coverage being triggered by such an event, experts say it is too soon to discuss the possibilities. However, one knowledgeable source indicated that individual terrorism could come into play, but it is doubtful the movie theater had such coverage.