awareness and preparedness efforts.

While we have done a considerable amount of research on this topic, there were a few items in this presentation that grabbed my attention:

1) Zero reports of violence do not equal zero violence

This is a critical statement for employers to understand and address.  Over 80% of violent incidents have clear warning signs, but red flags are often not reported.  How is your organization ensuring your employees, third-parties, etc. understand their responsibility to report suspicious incidents, threats, etc.?  Have you made it easy for employees to submit an incident report?  Can they do so anonymously?  Once an employee submits an incident report, how does your organization ensure the appropriate personnel or threat assessment team members are notified? How does your organization know what actions were taken?

2) Distinguish between “making a threat” and “posing a threat”

The speaker addressed three key points:

  • Some people who make a threat do pose a threat
  • A few people who pose a threat never make a threat
  • Most people who make a threat do not pose a threat


How can organizations determine the difference between threatening behavior and odd or unusual behavior?   John Doe might have a fascination with guns.  Jane Smith just broke up with her boyfriend.  Henry Johnson has a history of mental illness.  However, just one of these risk factors alone does not generally constitute a threat.  The whole picture has to be reviewed and Threat Assessment Teams need specialized awareness to help identify and mitigate risk factors.

There are several assessment tools available (VRAG, RAGE-V, etc.) that can help Threat Assessment Teams evaluate behaviors and determine risk factors.  Risk factors can include contextual factors, deterrent factors, potential stressors and resiliency factors, and all should be taken into account when evaluating a potential threat.

3) Don’t Get Caught in the White Zone

As soon as an organization thinks they are safe (“My employees would never do that”) and stops preparing is when they will get caught.  It is critical for employers to understand that the risk of workplace violence is real and implement a proactive approach to ensure workplace safety and security.

Organizations must ensure they are “connecting the dots” across all departments, locations, individuals, etc. and eliminate silos between management, staff, mental health, law enforcement, third-parties, etc.  When the right information is shared with the right people at the right time, your organization’s chances of preventing workplace violence, negative publicity, lawsuits and much worse, are much better.