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What to do if shooting starts in your restaurant

hand firing gun shooting

The New York City Police Department has posted a guide on its new NYPD Shield website to teach businesses what to do if someone with a gun opens fire on the premises with the intent of inflicting mass casualties—what authorities call an “active shooter.”

The guide is aimed at building security personnel, but the best practices it cites are applicable to restaurants. The resource cautions, “NYPD cannot put forward a single set of best-practices for private security response to such incidents. However, the NYPD has compiled a list of recommendations.”

Here are some of the more basic recommendations. The full pamphlet is available here.

Conduct a security analysis ahead of time

Assess how vulnerable the facility might be to a mass shooter, and identify the various means of escape that would be available to customers and staff.

Make sure panicked customers and guests can find the exits

Notices should be posted in conspicuous places, the NYPD advises.

Conduct drills with the staff

A run-through can dampen the panic and reveal problems ahead of time.

Be sure the staff knows the three responses if a shooting erupts

The correct one to choose depends on the circumstances, but here are the possibilities recommended by the NYPD:

  1. Evacuate if it’s safe to do so. Encourage staff and guests to leave their personal belongings behind and get out as quickly as possible.
  2. Hide if evacuation is not the safest option. Secure areas should be identified ahead of time. The staff should know to lock or block the door from inside. Turn off the lights, cover any windows, turn off all electronic devices, remain silent and lie on the floor.
  3. Disrupt the shooting if evacuation or hiding are not possible. Yell, throw things at the shooter or even risk attacking him.

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