Behavioral Threat Assessment
Through conducting behavioral threat assessments, Priority Protection Group supports organizations in identifying, assessing, and managing situations and individuals in which there is potential for people to cause violence to themselves or others.
A Behavioral Threat Assessment is the process of analyzing patterns of behavior and communication to determine whether a person, group, or situation poses a threat of violence to another person or organization.
A multi-disciplinary team works together to analyze the content of behavior and communication, the context in which they occur, and the circumstances surrounding the parties involved. These teams should reside within an organization and they should leverage the perspectives, experience, judgement, confidentiality, and compassion of the intentionally selected team members.
A key member of these teams should include an experienced threat manager to provide expertise in interpreting communications and behaviors, recommending mitigation efforts, participating in interviews, determining necessary resources, etc. Threat managers also guide the organization in refining policies and procedures to support employees who may be targeted, empower employees to speak up when they see or hear concerning behavior or communications, and provide necessary resources to those who are demonstrating such concerning behaviors. This
These behaviors and situations may include, but are not limited to:
Domestic Violence carried over to a place of employment
Threat of Violence to self or others
Leakage (indicating, through social media, writings, or conversations, a desire or plans to commit a violent act)
As it pertains to preventing assailants from carrying out violent attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said the following. "...By far the most valuable prevention strategy identified was the threat assessment and management team. The good news is that every organization and community has the potential to stand up or access such a team."(Making Prevention a Reality, FBI, 2017) In the aftermath of a violent attack, law enforcement, community members, co-workers, parents, family members, friends, and mental health professionals all come together to trace the steps of the attacker. Where did they go? Whom did they talk to? Who saw red flags leading up to this?
All of those questions, and more, will be answered through interviews with those responders. How much better would it be if we worked together to answer all of those questions before the attack is carried out…and then intervene? Multi-disciplinary behavioral threat assessment teams who collectively have many pieces of the puzzle, are the most practical and effective way we have to answer those questions prior to an attack, and ultimately prevent the loss of lives.
1. Do they “snap” or do they “decide”?
According to the FBI, the assailant in a mass shooting never attacks out of a sudden, random, immediate need to attack a crowd of people, a school full of students, or a house of worship full of believers. These attacks are predatory and planned. The planning process can range from days, to weeks, to months. The attacker intentionally conceals his/her motives, intent, and plans which adds to the common misconception that the attacker ‘snapped’.
2. See the signs: Recognize and Report
The U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) conducted three analyses of Mass Attacks in Public Spaces (MAPS) from the years 2017-2019. A key finding from these studies states, “Most of the attackers had exhibited behavior that elicited concern in family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and others, and in many cases, those individuals feared for the safety of themselves or others.”
Many other studies support this key finding - That those who planned violent attacks, “Did not threaten their targets directly, but prior to the incidents they displayed identifiable behaviors reflecting potentially violent intent.” (The Exceptional Case Study Project, U.S. Secret Service, 1997)
It is critical that everyone understands that potential assailants are progressing toward committing an attack, but they can be interrupted. Even better - they can be helped and violence can be prevented if people understand the signs, recognize them, and follow a designated and trusted reporting system. The combination of behavioral threat assessments and a structured reporting process have a significant impact on an organization's ability to ensure workplace peace of mind for its employees.
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