Don’t gamble with the risk of workplace violence.

Vaughn Baker - Strategos International

Failure to prepare has much higher stakes than roulette.

One of the most iconic quotes from the original “Star Wars” trilogy has to do with risk assessment.


C3-PO warns Han Solo that his flight through an asteroid field is likely to end in disaster. And that’s when Solo chimes in with “Never tell me the odds!”

That might be the motto of a stunt pilot, but not a leader. We want to know the odds of stepping on a land mine before we cross the field. We don’t want to gamble.

So when it comes to workplace violence, what exactly are the odds?

Answer: It’s unlikely someone will attack your workplace, school or house of worship.

It’s also unlikely that those places will be destroyed by fire, washed away in a flood or obliterated by a tornado. Yet we go to great pains to protect ourselves from these unlikely events.

Unlikely. Not unthinkable.

An active shooter attack is unlikely. That doesn’t mean it’s unthinkable.

There were 28 active shooter attacks in 2017 alone, according to the U.S. Secret Service. In 2016, there were 500 workplace homicides.

And consider the toll of violence over the long haul. The FBI reports 250 active shooter incidents between 2000-2016, resulting in 2,217 deaths. That’s an average of one homicide every three days.

What could go wrong?

To make wise decisions about security, we must not only consider the odds – or frequency – of being attacked. We must, but assess the impact of being unprepared.

How could a workplace attack affect your business, church or school? Here are just a few of the possibilities:

1. The first and foremost issue is the injury or death of employees, students and members. Your organization will never be the same.

2. You could be targeted by civil lawsuits and massive government fines.

3. An active shooter attack could put you out of business for good. Some companies simply can’t recover. Schools and government agencies have reported spending millions in the aftermath of an attack.

4. Businesses that survive often face major disruptions. Because their workplace has become a crime scene, law enforcement will shut it down for an undetermined period. These companies also have trouble keeping and finding new employees and experience a sharp drop in productivity.

5. Your organization’s brand identity may be forever associated with death. Where do you think the term “going postal” came from?

It’s fine to consider the odds. But when it comes to the safety of your people and the survival of your business, who wants to gamble?

Like the Boy Scouts, be prepared.

Vaughn Baker is the president of Strategos International and the co-author, with Mark Warren, of “Active Threat: Workplace 911.”