As elected officials propose new gun laws and call on social media companies to block hate speech following the May 14 shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 people dead, an enforcement expert of the law told the Business Journals that there are steps businesspeople can take to help protect their employees and customers from similar assaults.
An 18-year-old white supremacist, Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, reportedly drove to Tops Friendly Market on Jackson Avenue in Buffalo while live-streaming his actions on a radical website. He allegedly started shooting in the parking lot and then entered the store. He allegedly shot a total of 13 people, most of whom were black, killing 10 people.
Governor Kathy Hochul, who is from Buffalo, visited the scene and said she would move forward with plans to introduce a new package of gun control laws on May 17. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Buffalo to meet with survivors of the mass shooting and the families of the deceased.
“Unfortunately, these mass shootings have increased over the years and the death rate has also increased due to the possibility of obtaining these high-powered weapons,” said David E. Chong, commissioner of public safety of the city. City of White Plains, to Business Journals. . “We adhere to the standard ‘run, hide and fight.’ If you’re a business owner, you definitely need to have an exit in addition to the entrance, so you need to have another way out of your business and it needs to be clearly, clearly marked. All your employees should clearly know where this other exit is. In a large supermarket or department store, there will be many outlets. These should be clearly marked in bright red. Your employees need to know where these exits lead.
Chong is a veteran of over 44 years in law enforcement. In addition to currently heading the eighth-largest municipal police department in New York State, Chong previously served as police commissioner for Mount Vernon. He served over 22 years with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), retiring as a Lieutenant Commander of Detectives.
With the NYPD, he held a variety of key roles, including working undercover with the Tactical Patrol Unit, infiltrating organized crime and Asian gangs, in the Homicide Squad, and as the commander of the counterterrorism bureau’s global intelligence, formed shortly thereafter. after September 11. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree in public administration, teaches college courses in criminal justice, and trained with the FBI National Academy and the CIA.
“Just like you plan with a fire drill, every employee should know in case of an emergency, fire or other type of disaster, and certainly an active shooter, the best way to escape, and they should actually train there,” Chong mentioned. “Cameras are great and will help us solve a crime and they have great probative value. But, when you come up against someone who is psychotic or just has bad intentions, cameras don’t necessarily scare people away. They provide an extra layer of security and help us in law enforcement to apprehend the criminal.
Chong said gun laws are very important but must be enforced and unfortunately there is no universal enforcement.
“There are a lot of firearms in our country. There are actually more guns than there are people in our country,” Chong said. “Unfortunately with social media and the way people can access social media and become radicalized, it’s a mental health issue with a gun issue. It’s created these mass shooting situations that are worse than ever.”
Chong observed that the two key players allowing mass shootings to proliferate are not getting the attention they deserve.
“It has to do with punishing criminals and it also has to do with the availability of guns,” Chong said. “We are a Second Amendment protected country. Our people love guns. When I started as a police officer, we talked about handguns and we talked about shotguns and we talked about shotguns. Now people are getting semi-automatic AR-15s and military-style assault rifles. Weapons have become more advanced, ammunition has become more deadly.
Chong said the “run, hide and fight” scenario is an important mindset if people find themselves in a life-threatening mass shooting situation, which he says needs to realize. that it could happen anywhere, at any time.
“First, as a customer, when you walk into a place, you have to look at where the exits are,” Chong said. “I think it’s just good planning to know where you can run in addition to running through the same doors you came in. As a company, your employees should be trained for something like that.”
Chong said the “hide” part of “run, hide, fight” is that there must be a place to hide from a shooter, preferably a safe room designed to protect the occupants.
“This secure room must be locked from the inside and have no windows and if you have to hide, you can bring customers inside this secure room and lock this secure room from the inside,” said Chong. “If you find yourself where you can’t run and you can’t hide anymore, then your last resort is to take heart and get some kind of weapon. If you can get a few other people to help you , attack because you are basically fighting for your life.
Chong said a spray bottle of bleach or another harsh chemical could be weaponized in a desperate situation.
“You spray his eyes with bleach or hit him on the head with something heavy. You are basically fighting for your life. It’s the last resort,” Chong said. “The first resort is when you walk into a business, the first thing you should do, and it’s unfortunate that we have to think of it this way, is in your mind to look for a way to escape other than the front door. which you entered. ”
Chong said it was important to make an emergency call to the police as soon as possible. He said in many cases people actually assumed someone else would call 911 and used their cellphones to call relatives instead of notifying authorities that an attack was in progress.
“People are freaking out,” Chong said. “Immediately, call 911 immediately so we can get there. I’ve seen scenes of mass shootings where people have called loved ones and said they expect the company to call 911. The more phone calls come in, the more we know this is. is active and real and if we can safely get a description of who fired the shot and where they may be…responders can immediately search for that person. If you say the shooter is in the dairy aisle, male, white, in camouflage, they know where to go and who to look for. We go towards the sounds of gunfire.