As deadly violence rises across U.S., Philly business leaders learn to prepare

The Philadelphia skyline is seen along the banks of the Delaware River.

The Philadelphia skyline is seen along the banks of the Delaware River, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Following a week in which a gunman opened fire on a worship service in Texas, killing 26, Philadelphia business owners gathered to learn how to prevent and react to workplace violence.

Attorney Chris Steif, who briefed the business owners, said they’re preparing for the worst — and asking a lot of questions.

“How can we protect the people on our team? How do we get in a position to react effectively and minimize our risk?” Steif said. “Unfortunately, people need to think about violence in the workplace, at worship or any mass gathering as the result of recent shootings in other places in the country.”

Businesses need to have a plan for evacuation in case something happens in the workplace, he said, as well as making sure they are prepared at all times to deploy the plans in place.

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In light of recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, everyone needs to think about the potential for violence at work or in public, said Philadelphia Police Detective Joseph Rovnan.

“The biggest thing is preparation, to understand the dynamic unfolds so quickly,” Rovnan said. “If you have no thought process on where you are or what is going to happen, and don’t know your surroundings, you could be caught up in a scenario that … paralyzes you.”

Preparation begins with identifying at least two exits, no matter where you are, he said.

The sad truth, Rovnan said, is that shootings will continue, and Philadelphia could be a target at any time.

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