Threat Assessment

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Colorado School Safety Resource Center Created Threat Assessment Materials

Essentials of School Threat Assessment: Preventing Targeted School Violence

  • Created in November 2011 and updated in June 2019.
  • This document is intended as guidance to Colorado schools and was created with collaboration from the Threat Assessment Work Group of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center. Consultation with district legal counsel and local law enforcement is recommended. Additional consultation and template formats may also be obtained from the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, Department of Public Safety.
  • This guide includes:
    • Elements of a School Threat Assessment Process
    • The Cycle of Threat Assessment
    • Threat Assessment Inquiry Steps
    • Secret Service Eleven Key Questions
    • Selected Threat Assessment Resources
  • CSSRC Threat Assessment Possible Warning Signs and Risk Factors The Colorado School Safety Resource Center offers this document only as a companion to a full threat assessment training. This document in no way replaces a fully trained team and a training for other school staff in threat assessment and making referrals
  • Sample School Staff Referral Guide (.DOCX).
Other Threat Assessment Materials

Adams County Threat Assessment Protocol

  • The Adams County Threat Assessment Protocol (ACTAP) was created through a partnership between five Adams County School Districts (Adams 1 - Mapleton, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Adams 14 - Commerce City, Adams 27J -  Brighton, and Adams 50 - Westminister) and the Adams County Youth Initiative. With permission, the CSSRC had been utilizing this template in their no-cost threat assessment team trainings when other districts did not have a template and chose to adopt the ACTAP.
  • In January 2016, Adams County schools adopted a revised version of their template. Both the Adams County Schools and the Colorado School Safety Resource Center have agreed not to distribute this new template without consultation and/or training from one of the Adams County Schools or staff of the CSSRC. If your district/school is interested in training, please contact the Colorado School Safety Resource Center for more details.

Averted School Violence Database - a Preliminary Report

  • In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services  and the National Institute of Justice provided funding to the Police Foundation to initiate the Averted School Violence (ASV) project. Through this project, the Police Foundation developed a database  to collect, analyze, and publish incidents of averted and completed acts of school violence that have occurred since the attack on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.  The database is intended to serve as a resource to law enforcement, school, mental health professionals, and others involved in preventing school violence by sharing ways in which other school attacks across the country have been identified and prevented.

Averted and Completed School Attacks - a Comparison from the National Police Foundation

  • In this report, 51 completed and 51 averted incidents of school violence, drawn from the Averted School Violence (ASV) database, were analyzed to help further our understanding of averted and completed school attacks. The report also seeks to provide important lessons about how school violence can be prevented.  The data are drawn from the public domain as well as from law enforcement, school officials, and others entering reports into the database.   

Balancing Safety and Support on Campus: A Guide for Campus Teams

  • Courtesy of the Higher Education Mental Health Alliance (HEMHA).
  •  This guide summarizes the existing literature on campus teams and suggests some of the key issues that should be considered when creating or managing a campus team. The guide may be particularly useful to new teams considering various options for how they should be organized and led, but should also be helpful to existing teams interested in assessing their current functions, operations, or emphases.

Campus Threat Assessment Case Studies: A Training Tool for Investigation, Evaluation, and Intervention

  • Published December 2012 by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)U.S. Department of Justice
  • This guide is a training tool to assist campus threat assessment teams with self-guided opportunities to develop, refine, and enhance their behavioral threat assessment processes. Its design will help teams ensure they have a working knowledge of the nature and process of violence, how to identify persons at risk, reporting and assessing concerns, and resolving situations through compassionate and effective approaches.

Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model 

  • This operation guide was developed to provide fundamental direction on how to prevent incidents of targeted school violence, that is, when a student specifically selects a school or a member of the school community for harm. The content in this guide is based on information developed by the U.S. Secret Service, Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division, National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC). 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

  • Mass Victimization: Promising Avenues for Prevention published Dec 4, 2015. This document is focused on identifying strategies that contribute to preventing, not predicting, incidents of targeted violence that result in mass casualty events. It is the result of a multi-agency collaborative conference held at Quantico, Virginia, in August of 2013. 
  • Making Prevention A Reality, 2017. Created to give law enforcement and other first responders tools to prevent, rather than simply respond, to targeted violence. Created based on the input of academic researchers, mental health practicioners, and law enforcement from acroos the United States.
  • Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters published June, 2018.  Guide for parents, friends, teachers, employers, law enforcement and mental health professionals, and anyone who suspects that a person is moving towards an act of violence. Designed to provide guidance on recognizing the concrete and observable pre-attack behaviors of many active shooters.    

Making Schools Safer

  • Published May 2013 by the U.S. Secret Service
  • This tip guide summarizes the components to include in a comprehensive school safety plan:
    • Foster a Climate of Respect and Trust
    • Build Relationships
    • Promote Communication
    • Identify Concerning Behaviors
    • Maintain a Threat Assessment Team
    • Reinforce Clear Policies and Procedures
    • Provide Resources to Manage Concerning Students
    • Promote Information Sharing Between the School and Community Stakeholders
    • Liaison with Law Enforcement
    • Require Consistent Training Among Stakeholders

National Center for Education Statistics 

The Path to Violence

  • Video from PBS that first aired in February 2013.
  • This program tells a story about the effective Secret Service threat assessment program that helps schools detect problem behavior in advance and prevent acts of school violence.
  • CSSRC Staff Review, 6/11/14

Prior Knowledge of Potential School-Based Violence: Information Students Learn May Prevent a Targeted Attack (Bystander Study)

  • Published by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service (2008)

Recorded Livestream of Dr. John Nicoletti discussing Detection, Disruption & Threat Assessment in Schools

  • Recorded April 12, 2013 in Loveland
  • The recording is displayed in various stages on the Livestream site.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to access all the videos.
  • Accompanying Slides

Threat Assessment in College Settings

  • Written by Dewey Cornell, Ph.D. and published in Change magazine in 2010.
  • Although it is important for colleges to have a well-designed plan for first-responders, a comprehensive approach to campus safety should not be limited to security measures, warning systems, or crisis-response plans that are designed to react to violence. Threat assessment is a form of violence prevention that should be undertaken well before a gunman appears in the parking lot. The history of many school shootings reveals that the attack was preceded by threatening statements and behavior that aroused the concern of others weeks or months in advance.

U.S. Secret Service Final Report and Findings of the Safe Schools Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States

  • Provides overview of the Key Findings of the Safe School Initiative  

U.S. Secret Service Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and Creating Safe School Climates

  • Provides guidance for implementing, conducting and managing a school threat assessment process

CSSRC Summary of Secret Service 11 Key Questions

  • Main questions used to guide the threat assessment process in schools

The Virginia Model for Student Threat Assessment

  • Written by Dewey Cornell, Ph.D. and presented at the Confronting Violence in Our Schools: Planning, Response, and Recovery – A PERI Symposium in 2007.
  • This brief paper discusses the rationale for conducting threat assessments and how to apply the research-based threat assessment model created by the University of Virginia.

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