Risk Solutions International helps public school districts, colleges and universities mitigate the risk to public safety from shootings and other forms of targeted violent behavior and to help offset the risk of debilitating liability exposure. A full threat management solution includes the coordination of three elements that work in unison to lower these risks. Requiring staff, teachers, professors and resident advisors to complete the Understanding School Shootings online course is the first element. Second, it is necessary to review the optimal composition of the threat assessment team or committee – including the right roles, best practices procedures and policies for data gathering, threat evaluation, thresholds for response, and response options.
But neither of these two elements fully support risk reduction without a mechanism and process that gathers tips, reports, complaints and warnings, intakes this intelligence and presents it to the central “clearinghouse” - the threat assessment team or committee. So the third crucial element in managing the risks of targeted school or campus violence is to put in place an anonymous data gathering mechanism so students, staff and parents can feel comfortable informing the authorities about concerns, tips and information that can help professionals more quickly assess the threat level and intervene before tragedy ensues.
Anonymity is crucial, because few people come forward with helpful information if they feel threatened by retaliation. Studies confirm that in virtually all shootings, multiple people had been told about the attacks before they were initiated, or they had a strong suspicion, or “knew something was up…” What has often been missing at schools that have suffered violent attacks is a safe process and tool through which constituents could have voiced their concerns or suspicions privately – before these attacks were initiated. Anonymous reporting systems address this problem.
They also help form the basis of legal defense if incidents turn violent or lethal, by tracking each stage of a threat for reporting purposes. Anonymous complaints are date and time stamped at every stage – initial report, first action of the threat assessment team, reporting escalation and response actions. The aftermath of every violent incident invariably includes claims and lawsuits, requiring factual discovery, incident timeline and prevention/response procedure analysis and evaluation. A good reporting system with incident tracking capability can help form the basis for a strong defense and financial risk mitigation.
We recommend systems like The Watchful I, which is used in schools everywhere. It is priced at a nominal annual fee per student, supports telephonic and web-based anonymous reporting, along with a solid incident tracking system.