August 9, 2012
We have been flooded with news stories about the tragic shooting in an Aurora, CO movie theater and have recently been hearing news about how the alleged shooter was seen by mental health professionals at his school prior to his leaving his graduate training. I just heard a story on NPR about Threat Assessment Teams that I thought was well-done and wanted to share it here.
When I was in a leadership role at Hopkins’ employee assistance program, we developed a Risk Assessment Team. I wrote an article about this process, have given over a dozen talks about it and since starting my private consulting practice have continued this work outside of Hopkins for local universities and companies addressing such issues.
One of the things I liked most about the NPR story was how well they conveyed some key points of risk assessment, such as: 1) we simply cannot accurately predict human behavior, 2) actuarial methods (e.g., “profiling”) do not work (and clearly are not supported in the literature), 3) a multidisciplinary team approach is optimal and 4) any such team needs to continually communicate, meet, train and develop together. Most companies and even many universities do not have the resources to do this; in such cases it is often useful to bring in a consultant with expertise in this area for guidance in program development and/or individual cases that arise.