Threat Assessment and Management for Educators and Administrators

7.0 Forming and Training the Threat Assessment Team

Who should be on the threat assessment team and what are their functions? Let’s start with another important distinction. Just like there is a significant difference between vulnerability assessments and threat assessments, threat assessment teams and safety or crisis response teams are not the same.

A safety team or crisis response team is often a building level team that deals with safety issues and crisis events either through planning or by actually responding to them. These teams engage in either crisis planning or mitigation or in actual response - or both. They may concern themselves with what doors should be locked, update the emergency plans, or screen those entering the building during parent reunification.

The threat assessment team has a very limited, specific function - to investigate threats or threatening behaviors and implement actions to prevent an individual from engaging in violence.

The first step in creating a threat assessment team is to identify the appropriate members. The multidisciplinary team should include members from the school administration and teaching staff, mental health, and law enforcement. Ad hoc members should be included as needed from other areas such as juvenile probation, social services, and others with a particular connection to the individual of concern such as a minister, coach, mentor, or others.

When selecting the team, it is important to consider the attitudes, skills, and dispositions of potential members. The following aspects are particularly relevant: - A questioning, analytical mindset - The ability to relate well with parents, colleagues, and students - Familiarity with the school environment, adolescent development, and safe school practices - A reputation in the organization for fairness and trustworthiness - A high level of discretion and confidentiality - The ability to effectively discuss difficult or uncomfortable subjects - A willingness to examine alternate viewpoints or disagree with the majority

The importance of adequate, appropriate, education-based training for the threat assessment team cannot be overstated. This toolkit alone does not provide the skills and capabilities needed for effective threat assessment training and should not be used as such.

Every member of the threat assessment team should receive initial and on-going direct training on evaluating threats, the threat assessment process, and managing individuals of concern. Threat assessment should not be implemented through a “train the trainer” model where only one person receives intensive training. While periodic reviews or training updates may effectively use this philosophical approach after threat assessment has been successfully implemented in a school, the initial training for threat assessment team members should be delivered directly from a professional trainer in threat assessment.

Various professional organizations and individuals can provide training to threat assessment teams. The most reputable and effective of these are used by the Texas School Safety Center to provide training to school districts in the state. The threat assessment training offered by the Texas School Safety Center is a day-long training for threat assessment team members. It focuses on the best practices for evaluating threats and conducting threat assessment management, as well as the logistical concerns of team make up, policy development, and threat assessment implementation.

Please consult the training scheduling for the dates and location of the next threat assessment training.

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Regardless of the training provider, threat assessment training should: - Focus primarily on an educational perspective. - Be taught by a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, or someone with comparable expertise. - Include both the theory of threat assessment as well as practical, logistical concerns for implementation.