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1. Movie theater shootings have taken place in Nashville, TN last week and in Lafayette, LA three weeks ago; and the sentencing was just held for the Colorado movie theater shooter. Why do you feel we’ve seen multiple occurrences of public crowd shootings, specifically in movie theaters?

I suspect these may be copycat offenses where the suspects are looking for the publicity that surrounds these types of violent events.  People must realize that not just movie theaters, but any place where crowds of people are gathered, may be vulnerable to this type of violence. 

Image of a IMAX movie theater2. After the Nashville, TN shooting, a Nashville Police Chief said these sort of occurrences may be “the new normal”. Should the public feel safe in large groups, like movie theaters, and do you believe we’ll see more instances like we have recently?

It is certainly possible that we will see similar incidents of violence in the future.  Although it seems like an epidemic of these types of events, we are nowhere near the point where I would recommend that the public should avoid these venues.  Venue managers, however, should consider putting the appropriate security in place to ensure the safety of their patrons.  In fact, the public may start to demand some type of visible security or law enforcement presence at movie theaters and other similar venues.

3. What should people be aware and mindful of when entering these types of public settings?

I always stress constant situational awareness when attending public events.  This means you should always be aware of your surroundings, including suspicious items in the area and the behavior of people around you.  Remember the slogan “If you see something, say something.”  If you become aware of a suspicious situation, you should warn others if possible, leave the area and immediately report it to the appropriate authorities.

4. If a person ever finds themselves in an active shooter situation in an enclosed area like this, what is the best way to react and remain safe?

Although each situation will be different, in general it is best to stay as low as possible and get behind something that will protect you from gunfire.  At the earliest possible opportunity, you should make an escape from the area and call 9-1-1 as soon as you are able to.  Don’t assume someone else has already called authorities.  The information you provide will help law enforcement respond directly to the crisis area in order to quickly address the threat.

5. What can movie theaters do to help prevent these issues and protect civilians?

As I stated before, some type of visible security may be expected by the public.  This could include armed security officers, law enforcement presence, and/or security measures at access points, such as bag checks and pat down searches.  You typically see this type of security at concerts and sporting events and it is quite effective.  People have come to expect this minor inconvenience as a way to ensure their safety and peace of mind.

 

David Jannetty is the Academic Program Manager for the John P. Burke School of Public Service Emergency Management and Homeland Security program at Post University, and is a retired assistant deputy police chief with the Waterbury, CT Police Department. Jannetty has over 23 years of experience in law enforcement, school and workplace safety, and emergency management.