Every time we turn on the news, or open our Internet browsers, a story about an active shooter – at a school, place of worship, public place and even in our workplaces spills onto the page. How do we prevent these incidents from occurring?

Key Factors for Prevention and Early Intervention

To manage threats associated with targeted violence and the active shooter, you have to:

  1. Dismiss prevailing beliefs about attackers – including racial profiling;
  2. Understand the pre-attack process; and,
  3. Learn the processes involved in threat assessment and protective intelligence.

Common Myths about Attackers

Generalization. Unfortunately it’s all too common in our society, especially when something tragic happens. It’s our natural instinct to informally analyze the situation and generalize about the attackers characteristics. [1]

  • Myth #1: They fit a distinct profile – (Believe it or not, attackers don’t fit one descriptive or demographic profile.)
  • Myth #2: They are mentally ill – (Mental illness rarely plays a key role in attacker behavior.)
  • Myth #3: They make a direct threat – (People who pose an actual threat most often do not actually make a threat.)

5 Attack-Related Behaviors

After the U.S. Secret Service and National Institute of Justice completed their five-year study, analyzing the behaviors and thinking of 83 attackers from 1949 to 1996, they learned that there are some common characteristics among attackers. These “attack-related behaviors” include:

  • Interest or obsession with violence
  • Develop attack plan
  • Approach or visit site of attack
  • Attempted assault or actual attack
  • Attempt to penetrate security
  • Approach or visit site with weapon

To learn more about these behaviors and what you and your organization can do to take a proactive approach against targeted violence and active shooters, download our free presentation on the topic.


[1] Fein, R. & Vossekuil, B. Protective Intelligence and Threat Assessment Investigations: A Guide for State and Local Law Enforcement Officials. U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice: Washington, D. C. (July 1998).

The risk of workplace violence is pervasive. It doesn't discriminate between C-suites or cubicles.
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