Planning Ahead for Managing Victims and Their Families in Active Shooter Incidents

Active shooter incidents provide law enforcement with a number of crime-specific challenges. Among these significant challenges faced by law enforcement agencies responding to active shooter incidents and other mass casualty crimes is managing victims and their families in the immediate aftermath. Although this aspect of the response is seldom addressed in critical incident planning and exercises, the manner in which victims and families are treated has been shown to play a major role in judging the overall response to these crimes. A victim management plan is especially important to criminal justice officials whose operational and investigative tasks will benefit from the trust, cooperation, and goodwill of victims, families, and eyewitnesses.

Victims and families confront painful challenges and decisions in the immediate aftermath of a violent crime. Some of these issues are predictable, while others are unique to the individual and the situation, but they can all be addressed by a team of agency representatives that anticipates and responds to collective and individual needs of victims.