Social Media’s Role in Safety

Social Media in Committing a Crime

Today a man, reportedly upset over a negative job situation, used social media to plan and carry out a shooting of a TV news crew in Moneta, VA.  The man came up on WDBJ 7 reporter Alison Parker, who was interviewing of Vicki Gardner, a local Chamber of Commerce chairperson.  In a video made by the gunman, he points the gun at Alison, calls her a name, and then lowers the gun.  He seemingly waits until the cameraman has his camera on her, then opens fire.  Alison and Adam were both killed, while Vicki was hospitalized, reportedly with a gunshot to her back.  The shooter flees, and then posts the video to Twitter.

social media picture

Alison Parker
(Photo courtesy of Fox News)

social media picture

Adam Ward
(Photo courtesy of Fox News)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media in Responding to a Crime

The use of social media during this incident highlights the many pluses and minuses of social media.  When it happened, the news of what happened spread quickly, mainly due to Twitter and Facebook.  The shooting occurred right before 7:00am Eastern, and by noon the identity of the shooter was known.  While the use of social media to aid in communication seems a natural use of its capabilities, this must be tempered with the loss of context that often accompanies near-instant communication.

Many news outlets censored the footage of the interview and shooting, but the shooter had taken his own video and posted it to Twitter.  From there it went to Facebook and other social media, giving people unedited access to the carnage.  Whether this is good thing or not is for another time.  However the importance of social media cannot be over-emphasized.

Social Media in Safety Planning

Anyone responsible for the safety of others should incorporate the uses of social media into their safety plans.  It is a tool, and should be used as such.  Planners should also prepare for the negative effects of social media, mainly disinformation and lack of context.  Media protocols can be as important in responding to an incident as any other protocol, as the wrong information can increase the difficulty in responding to the incident.

Information travels so much more quickly today than ever before.  We safety planners need to get a handle on this concept and use it to our advantage, or it will surely use us.

As with any such tragedy, let’s take some time to care for the wounded and grieve for our losses.   Then let’s learn what lessons we can and make ourselves better.

 

Close Call While Researching Sequel to Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters

This elite anti-poaching team helps patrol the more than 1.3 million square miles of Coutada 11 and 12 in the Zambeze Delta Region.  Combined with teams that patrol on foot, these brave men face extremely tough conditions in the bush to combat poachers.  Though poaching is still a challenge, wildlife populations have bounced back remarkably well since these efforts were initiated.  U.S. Military special operators could learn from these determined men.

This elite anti-poaching team helps patrol the more than 1.3 million square miles of Coutada 11 and 12 in the Zambeze Delta Region. Combined with teams that patrol on foot, these brave men face extremely tough conditions in the bush to combat poachers. Though poaching is still a challenge, wildlife populations have bounced back remarkably well since these efforts were initiated. U.S. Military special operators could learn from these determined men.

A portion of the leg-hold traps the anti-poaching team has confiscated in the past year.  These leg-hold traps are called Jennies and are made from old car door springs.  Wire snares are far more prevalent because they are easier to make and transport.  Trapped animals are finished off with spears with blades fashioned from re-bar and set in a bamboo pole.  Though crude, these spears will penetrate the hide of a buffalo or an elephant.

A portion of the leg-hold traps the anti-poaching team has confiscated in the past year. These leg-hold traps are called Jennies and are made from old car door springs. Wire snares are far more prevalent because they are easier to make and transport. Trapped animals are finished off with spears with blades fashioned from re-bar and set in a bamboo pole. Though crude, these spears will penetrate the hide of a buffalo or an elephant.

After they found and freed a female Reedbuck caught by the neck in a wire snare, Gorchie, Albino and Poen were able to locate this extremely well-concealed poacher’s camp.  They confiscated a considerable amount of meat and supplies before burning the camp.  The poachers had walked more than 30 miles to set up this operation.  Meat poachers kill many animals they never recover and can kill an astounding number of animals ranging from small antelope to lions and buffalo.

After they found and freed a female Reedbuck caught by the neck in a wire snare, Gorchie, Albino and Poen were able to locate this extremely well-concealed poacher’s camp. They confiscated a considerable amount of meat and supplies before burning the camp. The poachers had walked more than 30 miles to set up this operation. Meat poachers kill many animals they never recover and can kill an astounding number of animals ranging from small antelope to lions and buffalo.

Close Call During Research Visit for Sequel to Staying Alive- How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters

Research for the sequel for Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters has been a most interesting experience thus far.  During the past two weeks, I have had the privilege to interview and observe three of the most fearless men I have ever met.  I also had the opportunity to observe them operate under pressure in a situation that was likely more dangerous than any I faced in twenty years as a law enforcement officer.

Relevance to School Crisis Preparedness

The first in a series of interviews with men and women who must routinely handle life and death situations, this experience occurred in the forests and swamps of Sofala Province of Mozambique.  While their work bears little resemblance to the field of education at first glance, they provided valuable lessons for school and public safety officials here in the United States.  This interview did not involve S.W.A.T. officers or military special operators.  Though I will also be interviewing these types of experts for the project, this effort focused on three men who make very different types of high-stakes decisions in an environment where emergency assistance is typically hours if not days away when catastrophe strikes.

Close Encounter

I knew the trip would be an adventure, I did not anticipate that a series of sudden shifts in the wind would result in our group being surrounded on two sides by a large heard of Cape Buffalo. Weighing in at more than 1,500 pounds, Cape Buffalo are one of the most dangerous animals on the continent.  Having the fringes of a heard of about 150 of these massive beasts 6-8 yards from our group in heavy cover could have resulted in a violent and grisly death for all four of us had these men not shown amazing control.

Life-saving Lessons from the bush

Sadly, I also had the opportunity to observe these men attempt to track a group of poachers who had hacked off the tusks of a large bull elephant.  Unfortunately, the poachers had a full-day head start and had made it to the nearest town before we were able to take up the track.

Poen, Gorchie and Albino with the carcass of an old bull elephant.  Though they were able to track the team of poachers, it readily became apparent from the age of their tracks that they had already made their escape.

Poen, Gorchie and Albino with the carcass of an old bull elephant. Though they were able to track the team of poachers, it readily became apparent from the age of their tracks that they had already made their escape.

I was able to learn quite a bit about how critical trust between team mates is when faced with imminent and severe danger.  I was also blessed to be able to observe first-hand just how well experts can retain their composure under these types of trying conditions.  I am looking forward to the interviews with other types of experts who are among the best in the world at staying alive and saving the lives of others.

School Sexual Assault Part of a Game?

School Sexual Assault

A senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH  sexually assaulted a fifteen year old classmate.  The police investigation revealed that the assault may have been part of a competition.  The assaulter and his friends were competing to see who could “hook up” the most before the end of the school year.  The assaulter is facing seven felony charges, but the others involved in the “game” may not be charged.

Some precepts of Title IX

School Sexual Assault Analysis

K12 schools, and higher education institutions, are covered under Title IX, part of a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination.  Recent guidance from the Obama Administration warns schools that waiting to start an inquiry into sexual crime allegations until after a police investigation has been concluded is unacceptable.  Sexual violence is viewed under the law as an extreme form of hostile environment/sexual harassment and must be addressed.

Schools need to plan for sexual assaults on their campus.  Remaining compliant with Title IX means knowing how to secure a crime scene for law enforcement.  It also means placing a top priority on reporting sexual assaults to the proper authorities.

In Indiana, and specifically in my school district, we not only contact law enforcement, but the Division of Child Services.  We also conduct our own internal investigation, ensuring not to interfere with other investigations.  Policies and guidelines should be in place concerning disseminating video files, if applicable, as well as other aspects of coordination with local and state agencies.

Any report of school sexual assault should generate an immediate, comprehensive response by the school.