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Effective Threat Assessment Presented by: Chris Jaekl.

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1 Effective Threat Assessment Presented by: Chris Jaekl

2 Can it happen to you? Columbine High School – 1999 Virginia Tech College – 2007 VERY CLOSE TO HOME! Sikh Temple Shooting, Oak Creek, Aug 2012 Azana Spa Shooting, Brookfield, Oct 2012

3 Describe the “Cycle of Violence”, and help you understand some of the clues that indicate the potential for violence. Describe actions to take when confronted with: An active shooter. Law enforcement officers who are responding to the situation. Recognize potential workplace violence indicators. Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents. Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident. Course Objectives

4 What’s the answer? 1.Fight Denial….the primary obstacle to effective threat assessment is denial. 2.Deter violence 3.Detect – know and understand the precursor’s to violent behavior.

5 Principles of Effective Threat Assessment 1. Premeditated violence is predictable and preventable. 2. Violence is situational

6 In “Threat Assessment in Schools”, the U.S. Secret Service identified several principles to understanding threatening behavior, among them: 1. Targeted violence is the end result of an understandable, and oftentimes discernible, process of thinking and behavior. 2. Targeted violence stems from an interaction among the person, the situation, the setting, and the target 3. The central question of a threat assessment is whether a student poses a threat, not whether the student made a threat. Understanding Threatening Behavior

7 Threatening behavior: – Threats to cause bodily harm or death to another person (including stalking, bullying, or other abusive or aggressive behavior) – Threats to commit sabotage, destroy, damage, or deface real or personal property located at the workplace – Unusual, bizarre, or menacing behavior or statements that a reasonable person would interpret as carrying the potential for violent acts Understanding Threatening Behavior

8 Our ability to deal with threatening behavior is enhanced when we understand how a person decides to use violence as an option: Violence as an option Four primary factors are considered before resorting to violence Perceived Justifications Perceived Alternatives Perceived Consequences Perceived Abilities Dealing with Threatening Behavior – Understanding Violence

9 Violence as an option Perceived Justification: Simply put, does the person feel justified in using violence? Perceived Alternatives: Does the person perceive that he/she has any viable alternatives to violence that will bring about the desired outcome? Understanding Violence

10 Violence as an option – Perceived Consequences: How does a person view the consequences associated with using violence? Generally, if a person views the consequences as acceptable, violence is likely – Perceived Abilities: Does the person believe that he/she can successfully use violence and overcome you? Like animals, people can sense fear and indecisiveness and will use this to their advantage. Do not let the person you are dealing with know that you are unsure of yourself! Understanding Violence

11 Violence as an option – Perceived Abilities: There are several things that can easily be done to reduce a persons perceived ability to successfully use violence against you! 1. Self confidence: Exhibit confidence in yourself and your actions. If you are not sure of what to do in an incident, DO NOT let anyone know that! Your self confidence will tell others that you are in control. 2. Self control: Always exhibit self control. A person that tries to get you excited is trying to make you lose control. If you lose control, the other person can gain control. Don’t let this happen. Understanding Violence

12  Violence as an option Perceived Abilities: ○ There are several things that can easily be done to reduce a persons perceived ability to successfully use violence against you! 3. Attitude: As with self confidence, always maintain a winning attitude. This is the belief that no matter what happens, you will win and you will survive. This in turn translates into self confidence. The self confidence you gain from a winning attitude can be sensed by other people and will likely lessen their perceived ability to use violence against you Understanding Violence

13 “I was looking for people that were looking for me…….” Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

14 Precursors to Violence – Precursor’s can be of a verbal or non-verbal nature. It is critical to our survival that we be able to recognize both categories and act on these prior to becoming involved in a violent encounter. – Non verbal precursors 1. Conspicuously ignores you: Generally, when we speak to another person, we will at least get some type of eye contact from that other person, if not full participation in a conversation. However, if a person conspicuously ignores you, refuses to make eye contact, talks to other people as if you are not there, etc., that person is showing contempt for you. This could be an indicator that the person is gearing up for a violent encounter with you. 2. Displays animated behavior: Through animated or exaggerated behavior, a person may be “gearing up” physically for direct violence against you. Understand that this type of behavior could indicate a violent encounter is imminent, and make an appropriate decision to avoid the violence! Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

15 Precursors to Violence – Non verbal precursors 3. Closes distance: A person that tries to get close to you and reduce your reactionary gap may be trying to “feel you out” to determine how close you will let them get to you. While most people will respect your personal space, a person that is intent on attacking you will feel the need to get close to you. 4. Masking movements: This could be a simple move of the arm or wave of the hand to mask another movement that could be aggressive. If you see a person trying to distract you with some type of simple innocent movement, be aware of other aggressive movement that the person may be taking. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

16 Precursors to Violence Non verbal precursors 5. Abruptly stops all movement: This could be the calm before the storm. If you see this, especially if it follows some exaggerated movements, prepare yourself for a violent encounter. 6. Presence of alcohol: “Of all psychoactive substances, alcohol is the only one whose consumption has been shown to commonly increase aggression.” Alcohol will reduce a person’s inhibitions and increase aggressive behavior. The alcohol that the person has consumed makes him/her think he/she has the ability to successfully use violence against anyone (everyone has heard of “beer muscles”). The bottom line is this: If you deal with a person that has been drinking alcohol, prepare yourself for a violent encounter. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

17 Precursors to Violence – Non verbal precursors 7. Mental Illness: mental illnesses in and of themselves do not always indicate violent behavior is imminent. However, there are 3 recognized factors that frequently do indicate a potential for violence when they are present with some type of mental illness: 1. When the person feels that his/her mind is dominated by forces beyond his/her control, that person may resort to violence to fight those perceived forces. 2. If the person feels that someone else wishes him/her harm. 3. When the person feels that other peoples thoughts are being put into his/her head. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

18 Precursors to Violence – Non verbal precursors 7. Mental Illness: Autonomic vs. predatory aggression Autonomic aggression is our response to a surprise attack….you don’t think about the response, it just happens. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

19 Autonomic Aggression

20 Precursors to Violence – Non verbal precursors 7. Mental Illness: Autonomic vs. predatory aggression Predatory aggression involves preparation…..it is very cognitive. ALL predatory aggression meets certain DSM IV criteria. Many mental health issues equate to the potential for violence! Mental Illness: Lack of empathy Several studies have been done that show a correlation between a lack of empathy and a tendency toward violent behavior. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

21 Precursors to Violence – Verbal precursors 1. Excessive Emotional Attention: There is a high correlation between emotional distress and physical conflict. If you are dealing with a person that is talking too loudly to you or is arguing belligerently with you, you could be in trouble. If this person starts to identify you as the problem, that person may feel that violence against you is justified. 2. Veiled Threats: “You better be careful”, “You don’t know who you are dealing with”, “You’ll be sorry for messing with me!”. There are all veiled threats to you. The person that makes these types of comments is stating what his/her intentions are. If you hear this, understand that this person has already justified the use of violence against you. It is now up to you to show him/her that his/her use of violence against you will not succeed. 3. Negotiations You Don’t Start: A person that attempts to start negotiating with you, making demands, and setting conditions is attempting to take control away from you. It is critical to remember that you must stay in control of the situation at all times. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

22 Precursors to Violence – Physical/Situational precursors 1. Boxer Stance: A person that blades his body to you, clenches and unclenches his fists, balances his weight on both feet, and brings his arms up from waist level is getting into a fighting stance. If you see this, immediately create distance from this person, and attempt to verbally control the situation, but be prepared for violence. 2. The Hand Set: Most people do not have the ability to initiate an attack with their hands at their sides. A person who has his/her hands up is getting into the natural position from which to launch an attack! Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

23 Precursors to Violence – Physical/Situational precursors 3. The Shoulder Shift: Before a person is able to move, he must tighten up the muscles in the area of his body that he wants to move. A person that shifts a shoulder back or down could be preparing to punch/grab at you, or kick you. If you see the shoulder shift back from a normal position, recognize this as a signal that the person is preparing for violence. 4. Target Glance: Most people will instinctively look to where they want to strike or attack before they actually make a move. If you notice a person that is making target glances to where you are recognize this as a threat and move. If that person doesn’t have a target, he usually can’t attack you. Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

24 Precursors to Violence – Physical/Situational precursors 5. Thousand Yard Stare: A person whose eyes are focused off in the distance, even if you are standing right in front of him, is said to have a thousand yard stare. This is similar to stopping all movement, and could be the calm before the storm. This person may be justifying in his mind the urge to attack you, and could explode with startling suddenness. 6. One on One Encounters: If you are dealing with a person one on one, this could invite a violent encounter, as the person feels he is just fighting one person. If you are with 3-4 friends, most people will not feel they can overcome that many people at one time. Remember the old saying “There is strength in numbers!” Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

25 Precursors to Violence – Physical/Situational precursors 7. Vaso-constriction. Vaso-constriction is the opposite of vaso-dilation. During vaso-constriction, the capillaries are constricted. This constriction leads to a reduction in blood flow to areas of the body, including the brain. Vaso-constriction is a survival response that is deeply rooted in our brain…..it indicates that a person is not thinking rationally. Have you ever seen a person that is “white with rage”??? Consider encouraging the person to breath, or simply offer the person a drink of water! Precursors to Threatening/Violent Behavior

26 3 Step Process: Communication Contacting Law Enforcement Remember, ANYONE can call 911! Response to being threatened with a weapon Dealing with Threatening Behavior

27 Communication: All of the communication techniques are “battle tested” from Law Enforcement’s Professional Communication Skills training Create a supportive atmosphere Remain calm. Pay attention to the other person. Listen actively and positively. Show that you are listening and trying to understand what the other person is telling you. Dealing with Threatening Behavior

28 Communication: Use model similar to police communication: R request cooperation E explain reason A allow choice C check decision T take action Dealing with Threatening Behavior

29 Communication: – Dealing with a person in Crisis: Calm yourself Center yourself and get focused Develop an intervention strategy – Crisis Intervention Techniques: 1. Try to get the person’s attention. 2. Check on the person’s perception of reality. 3. Try to establish rapport with the person. 4. Explain your perception of reality. 5. Move toward resolution of the situation. Dealing with Threatening Behavior

30 Contacting Law Enforcement When Crisis Intervention fails, or the situation exceeds your ability to deal with the crisis, contact Law Enforcement If the crisis is slowly developing, call: Non-emergency law enforcement number If you believe the crisis is an emergency, call: 911! ANYONE can call 911! Dealing with Threatening Behavior


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