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Targeted Violence on Campus Threat Assessment, Response and Prevention Michael DeValve, Ph.D. Department of Criminal Justice Fayetteville State University

Key Questions: 

Key Questions “Couldn’t we have done more to discover such an attack was being planned?” “What could we have done to prevent this?” “What do we do right already that makes the likelihood of an attack smaller?” “What more can we do to further diminish the likelihood of targeted violence?”

Purpose of Presentation: 

Purpose of Presentation Threat assessment Response to the threat of attacks Prevention of attacks

Littleton, Colorado: 

Littleton, Colorado Columbine High Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold Killed 15, wounded 24 Killed selves, shortly after noon

Virginia Tech: 

Virginia Tech Cho Seung Hui Killed 32, wounded 25

Bard College at Simon’s Rock: 

Bard College at Simon’s Rock Wayne Lo Killed 2, injured 4 Acted on God’s wishes

University of Arizona: 

University of Arizona Robert Flores, Jr. Killed three nursing professors He was failing out of the program

Red Lake Reservation H.S.: 

Red Lake Reservation H.S. Jeff Weise Killed nine, self

Dawson College: 

Dawson College Kimveer Gill Killed one, injured 19 No criminal record

UNC Wilmington: 

UNC Wilmington Curtis Dixon Allegedly beat, raped and strangled to death Jessica Faulker

Context (cont.): 

Context (cont.) UNC Task Force on the Safety of the Campus Community (12/2004) 7/1/2001 – 6/30/2004 250,000 unduplicated individual students 1086 crimes, 532 (49%) students as suspects Simple and aggravated assault most common 250 serious crimes – exclusive of simple assaults 21 offender / students had prior criminal history (3.95% of campus crimes with student suspects) 13 of 21 did not report their criminal history (.0052% of students, 2.44% of all campus crime where a student was a suspect, and 1.197% of all campus crime).


Clery Act (20 USC 1092 (f)) “timely warning” reports since 12/2005: On Monday, April 2, 2007, an alleged sexual assault was reported to the FSU Campus Police. The alleged assault occurred on April 1, 2007 at approximately 10:30 am in one of the residence halls on the campus of Fayetteville State University. At approximately 11:30pm on Friday, January 26, 2007, an alleged Armed Robbery occurred at parking lot K on Stadium Drive. At approximately 4:00am an alleged sexual assault occurred at Phase I of the University Place Apartments on Coley Drive. This location is considered to be part of the campus of Fayetteville State University. An assault was reported to have occurred in the university’s student center at approximately 5:00 PM, Friday afternoon, October 28, 2005. This location is on the campus of Fayetteville State University. Reported property damage/vandalism, was reported to have occurred on the campus of Fayetteville State University. The vandalism consisted of graffiti being sprayed upon campus buildings throughout the university grounds. This incident occurred between the hours of 8:00 PM, Monday October 31, 2005, and 6:00 AM, Tuesday November 1, 2005. An Armed Robbery was reported to have occurred in the area of Joyner Hall near Student Center Drive at approximately 1:00 AM, Thursday morning, December 5, 2005. This location is on the campus of Fayetteville State University.

Context (cont.): 

Context (cont.) FSU Campus Safety Survey In the past year… 93.1% of respondents report not being threatened with physical harm on campus. 7.8% (n=37) reported property/money stolen 4.6% (n=22) reported property intentionally damaged 6.1% (n=29) reported their student organization property was damaged intentionally 14 respondents were threatened with physical harm 5 respondents experienced physical harm 12.4% (n=59) saw illegal drugs; 7.1% (n=34) saw an unauthorized weapon;

Context (cont.): 

Context (cont.) Key findings: *Male respondents reported doing significantly fewer thing to keep themselves safe (F = 8.360, p = .004). *Respondents who reported being a victim of crime on campus also knew about a greater number of crimes on campus (F = 103.629, p ≤ .000). Victims and non-victims did not differ in the amount of activities undertaken to keep themselves safe. *Levene’s test for equality of variances was significant, so results should be interpreted with caution.

Definitive Identifiers for Attackers: 

Definitive Identifiers for Attackers Click to add text

Identifiers (cont.): 

Identifiers (cont.) Past dangerousness is best predictor of future dangerousness BUT… Past dangerousness a poor predictor. No definitive markers of future dangerousness Profiles unreliable and often harmful Listen to and believe threats, but the primary emphasis in threat assessment must be on pre-attack behavior. Traits are of limited value

Identifiers (cont.): 

Identifiers (cont.) All responses to perceived threats: Policy Decision-making… MUST be based on reason and empiricism Fear and ignorance lead to bad policy Civil rights a commodity, zealously to be guarded

Threat Assessment: 

Threat Assessment Safe School Initiative Secret Service and Department of Education Examine potential to adapt Secret Service threat assessment investigative process to targeted violence in schools Begun in 1999 Study – examination of pre-attack behavior of students who performed school attacks 37 incidents December 1974 – May 2000

Threat Assessment (cont.): 

Threat Assessment (cont.) Ten things we know (SSI): Incidents are rarely sudden, impulsive Often others knew of the attacker’s idea/plan Most attackers did not directly threaten target(s) No accurate profile

Threat Assessment (cont.): 

Threat Assessment (cont.) Behavior that caused concern or indicated need for help Significant losses or personal failures Felt bullied or injured Access to or use of weapons – often family-owned Often, other students involved Ended by means other than law enforcement


Response Attacks will happen. Policies set in place after attacks must be reasoned, appropriate, and compassionate, IF ANY are to be enacted. Be sensitive to risk – safety is everyone’s business Cornell may not answer his cell or email, but if he knew an attack was under way in his building, be certain he’d want to know.

Response (cont.): 

Response (cont.) Threat Assessment Team TA inquiry Low barrier to TAT access Emphasis on behavior, less on threats, traits Variety of sources of concern Multiple sources of information Safety needs balanced by respect for rights, privacy, and transparency of process Timelines often short If threat exceeds identified threshold, TA investigation (law enforcement) initiated

Response (cont.): 

Response (cont.) Data collection for threat inquiry (SS/DOE) Motives and goals? Inappropriate interest in weapons? Communications suggesting attack intent or ideation? Attack-related behaviors? Consistency between story and action? Capacity for targeted violence? Experiencing hopelessness, desperation, despair?

Response (cont.): 

Response (cont.) Data collection for threat inquiry (cont.) Trusting relationship with at least one responsible adult? Others concerned about student’s potential for violence? What circumstances might affect attack likelihood? Violence as acceptable / desirable / only way to problem resolution?


Prevention Be aware: Stay alert to your environment, people and situation around you. Be calm: Act calm and confident, even if you are not. Trust your instincts: If something makes you uneasy, listen to it. Know from whence your help comes: Where is the nearest emergency phone or populated place? Lock up: Car, dorm, office, classroom. No piggybacking. Safety is everyone’s business. Five things you can do to be safer on campus: (Security on Campus and Johns Hopkins, cf. P. Romary)


Prevention Target-hardening, preparedness, compliance with all relevant laws/regulations, and armed response all are important, but… The best weapon against targeted violence is: Compassion Mutual respect among all Emotional support Few barriers to communication


Prevention “In educational settings that support climates of safety, adults and students respect each other.” “[A safe school environment] provides a place for open discussion where diversity and differences are respected; communication… is encouraged and supported; and conflict is managed and mediated constructively.” -Secret Service/Department of Education Core Mechanisms Mindfulness, deep listening, loving speech and action, bearing witness The Power of the Present


A Gate-Crasher's Change of Heart The Guests Were Enjoying French Wine and Cheese on a Capitol Hill Patio. When a Gunman Burst In, the Would-Be Robbery Took an Unusual Turn. By Allison Klein Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, July 13, 2007; Page B01

What Now?: 

What Now? “What do we do right already that makes the likelihood of an attack smaller?” Student-centered orientation Campus Safety Committee Environmental safety analyses Campus Safety Survey Safety Patrol FSU PD Center for Personal Development

What Now? (cont.): 

What Now? (cont.) “What more can we do to further diminish the likelihood of targeted violence?” Fully-equipped counseling center Threat Assessment Team Create a compassionate, effective response policy set for crises Barrier analysis Continue tradition of being student-focused “Safety is Everyone’s Business” and other awareness efforts


“The decision was yours. Now there is blood on your hands that will never wash off.” -Cho Seung Hui “I was really hurting. I didn’t have anybody to talk to. They just didn’t care.” -Student, killed 2 and wounded several with rifle “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way” -Deepak Chopra

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