Expert Perspective on Threat Assessment
The U.S. Secret Service, through its National Threat Assessment Center, is a leading resource on ways to assess threats and understand indicators of targeted violence. K-12 school environments form one major area of focus for the Secret Service’s work, with several comprehensive research studies and guides available for schools’ use.
The Secret Service’s work highlights a few key findings that should be taken into consideration when building a threat assessment program:
- Incidences of violence were rarely impulsive.
- Students planned attacks well in advance with behavior that was oftentimes observable.
- Prior to attacks, other students knew the attack was going to occur.
- There is no profile of a student attacker.
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Building your threat assessment teams
Your threat assessment team is the group of people who will direct, manage, and document your threat assessment process.
Steps to creating a strong threat assessment team:
- Align your team with your district needs – consider your district’s size, population, geography, community, etc. when determining the size and composition of your team
- Include various disciplines – your team should include the following roles:
- School faculty/administration
- Investigator (your SRO or a police officer assigned to your school)
- Mental health professional
- Other professionals, such as guidance counselors, teachers, coaches, etc.
- Designate a team leader
- Meet on a regular basis – even if there are no active cases, it’s important to meet regularly to build team rapport and practice skills