The recent and tragic workplace shooting at Henry Pratt manufacturing company in Aurora, Illinois, is the latest horrific reminder of targeted violence. “Targeted violence” refers to violence that is goal directed, predatory and focused on specific individuals or groups. In targeted violence people move along a path of escalation and their behaviors and actions are knowable. It differs from “reactive violence” which is impulsive.
Following acts of mass violence, an effective means of handling these situations often receives little attention—behavior threat assessment and management. Behavioral threat assessment is the systematic process of identifying people who are exhibiting concerning behaviors that indicate their intention, motive or their capability to carry out a targeted attack, and then actively moves them off a path towards violence. The evidence-based, investigative element of threat assessment helps determine whether the person poses a threat, while the subsequent management of the threat helps the intended victim(s) remain safe.
To promote the approach of identifying, assessing and preventing targeted violence, the Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety (TAPS) Act (H.R. 838) was introduced in January 2019 by U.S. Representatives Brian Babin, D.D.S. (TX-36) and Val Demings (FL-10). The TAPS Act develops a national strategy to prevent targeted violence by using behavioral threat assessment and management. Importantly, the TAPS Act establishes a national task force to standardize threat assessment across the federal government. It will provide the knowledge, training and resources for state and local communities to build threat assessment teams and share this effective approach with the public.
While tragedies like the Henry Pratt shooting receive an abundance of news reporting, dangerous instances of targeted violence against individuals occur daily and often go unreported; many people are the victims of stalking, threats and unhealthy fixations. Behavioral threat assessment is an effective tool in preventing intended violence. The TAPS Act has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress (the companion bill is S. 265) and puts forth a workable approach that addresses the general welfare and safety of every American. Behavioral threat assessment methodology is currently used to help protect our President, legislators, foreign dignitaries and corporate executives, this same tool should be shared with all citizens.
For more information about the TAPS Act, visit Congressman Babin’s website. Stay tuned for additional articles exploring the TAPS Act components and how they apply to organizations and individuals.