Threat Assessments By Charles L. Feer, JD, MPA
Introduction • Threat Assessment is a process to determine the “credibility” and “seriousness” of a threat. • Some clients / constituents will ask for a “probability” of a threatened attack being carried out. • Typically, Threat Assessments are geared toward institutions and Risk Assessments are geared toward individuals. • Experts suggest to incorporate an “empirical foundation.” • The effort, is to determine what can be done to reduce or mitigate the threat.
Threat Assessment • Threat Assessments concentrate on the probability of a threat being carried out.
Threat Assessment Goals • 1) Identification of the Potential Perpetrator. • 2) Evaluate the Risks the Potential Perpetrator may pose to particular targets. • 3) Manage both the suspect and the risks that s/he presents to a given target.
Early Warning Signs of Violence • Loss of Temper on a daily basis. • Feelings of rejection and loneliness. • Victim of Bullying • Threatens others frequently • Frequent name calling, cursing, or abusive language. • Prefers music expressing violent themes. • Lack of impulse control, especially dealing with anger. • History of discipline problems.
Early Warning Signs of Violence • Poor school performance. • Has threatened or attempted suicide. • Fascination with guns and explosives. • Carries a weapon. • History of violent or aggressive behavior. • Does not respect authority. • Uses drugs and/or alcohol. Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guideline.
Dynamics of School Shootings • Rarely were sudden and impulsive. (Planned 1 – 2 days, up to a year in advance.) • Other people knew of the plan. • Did not directly threatened their targets. • Engaged in some behavior that caused others concern, or indicated a need for help.
Dynamics of School Shootings • Behaviors included: • Efforts to acquire a firearm. • Writing notes, poems or essays for class assignments that indicated intent. • Did not directly threatened their targets. • Most attackers had difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures.
Dynamics of School Shootings • Many attackers felt bullied, persecuted or injured by others: • Peer / Social Rejections; Victimization; Ostracized by the majority group in school. • Poor social and coping skills. • Vowed revenge against particular indivuals or groups.
Dynamics of School Shootings • Had access to and had used weapons prior to the attack. • Other students were involved in some capacity. (Were encouraged or influenced by others.) • Most shootings were stopped by other means than law enforcement intervention.
Dynamics of School Shootings • Lasted about 15 minutes. • There is no accurate or useful profile of school shooters.