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The Importance of Learning from Averted and Completed School Attacks

In this 90-minute webinar, Dr. Frank Straub and Jeff Allison provide an overview of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services-funded Averted School Violence (ASV) database and its application to higher education. The database is a free resource for those who play a role in school safety across the country at both the K-12 and higher education levels. The ASV database is used to collect, analyze, and share information on both averted and completed acts of violence in schools that have occurred post-Columbine. Frank discusses key findings from the ASV database and from a National Police Foundation study that compared averted incidents of school violence to completed incidents. Kristina Anderson, a Virginia Tech shooting survivor, shares lessons learned from the Virginia Tech shooting. Her powerful story, including insight about threat assessment and other key areas of violence prevention, are valuable for anyone involved in campus safety.

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The Importance of Learning from Averted and Completed School Attacks

  1. 1. Campus Public Safety Online
  2. 2. 2 Chief Frank Straub (Ret.), Director of the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies, National Police Foundation Jeff Allison, Special Adviser, IACLEA Kristina Anderson, Executive Director and Founder, Koshka Foundation The Importance of Learning from Averted and Completed School Attacks
  3. 3. Objectives • Provide an overview of the Averted School Violence (ASV) initiative and its relevance to higher education • Discuss the ASV database • Provide select results and key takeaways from two analyses of data collected through the ASV initiative • Share lessons learned from the Virginia Tech shooting and their implications for school safety today 3
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  7. 7. Averted School Violence (ASV) Initiative and Database • Funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) • Value in studying averted and completed acts of violence in schools – More attacks are prevented than completed – Contains insight into the effectiveness of school safety practices, systems, and training – Common safety practice in other 7
  8. 8. How the National Police Foundation Studies Averted School Violence • National database and resource: – Contains 100+ incident-level reports on averted and completed acts of violence in schools – K-12 through college/university institutions – 1999-Present – Freely available to law enforcement, school personnel, mental health professionals, and others involved in school safety and attack prevention 8
  9. 9. ASV Database ( • Can share information on averted attacks and prevention strategies 9
  10. 10. Report Review Process • Report is reviewed and identifying information is removed 10 • Report is published in “Browse Reports” section • Only vetted individuals can view incident-level reports
  11. 11. What Have We Learned So Far? • Part 1 Analysis: Averted attacks (n=51) • Part 2 Analysis: Comparison of completed attacks (n=51) to averted attacks (n=51) 11
  12. 12. What Information Did We Study? • School information – Safety/security – Size of student body, geography, etc. • Plot discovery and prevention – The perpetrator’s plan – How the attack was prevented • Perpetrator information – Behavioral/personal history – Reason for the attack, etc. 12
  13. 13. Plot Discovery • In averted attacks, student peers were most often the first to discover the plotter’s plan for violence 13
  14. 14. Perpetrator Information 14 Relationship to School
  15. 15. Perpetrator Information • Completed Attack Sample – At least 19 perpetrators were known to the criminal justice system prior to the attacks • Averted Attack Sample – At least 9 perpetrators were known to the criminal justice system prior to their planned attacks. 15 Characteristics
  16. 16. Key Takeaways for Schools and Law Enforcement • Educate students and teachers about warning sings for violence, as well as suicide and/or depression • Develop well-trained threat assessment teams – Over 80% of averted and completed attacks were planned/executed by current or former students/school employees • Proactively seek to identify student safety concerns 16
  17. 17. Key Takeaways for Law Enforcement • Consider making door breaching equipment more readily available to patrol officers to facilitate entries when necessary • Field an anonymous reporting system that is trusted by students • Obtain access to school floor plans beforehand and become personally familiar with the buildings by doing walk-throughs regularly 17
  18. 18. Forthcoming Materials • Forthcoming ASV publications: – ASV User Guide – Full report on averted attacks – Full report comparing averted to completed attacks • If you would like to receive any of these, please email 18
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  20. 20. 20 @KoshAnderson | @Koshka4Schools Safety is Personal: Lessons Learned as a Survivor of the Virginia Tech Tragedy
  21. 21. Our Mission: To increase awareness and levels of individual preparedness for: • Violence prevention • Active shooter response • Crisis recovery 21 Safe School. Safe Future.
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  23. 23. 23 Blacksburg, VA
  24. 24. 24 Norris Hall
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  27. 27. 27 Second Floor of Norris Hall
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  31. 31. 31 10:22 am
  32. 32. 32 Recovery Begins
  33. 33. 33 Return to Community & Memorials
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  35. 35. Characteristics of Perpetrators • No accurate profile of a perpetrator • Grievances, injustices, loss • Lack of resiliency, coping skills • Concern others, don’t suddenly snap • Elements of pre-planning 35
  36. 36. The Safe School Initiative 36 Bryan Vossekuil Robert Fein Marisa Randazzo Randy Borum William Modzeleski
  37. 37. Importance of “The Safe School Initiative” • Incidents of targeted violence rarely were sudden, impulsive acts • There is no accurate or useful profile of a school shooter 37 Source: “Final Report of the SSI Initiative” Vossekuil, Bryan; Fein, Robert; Randazzo-Reddy, Marisa.
  38. 38. Importance of “The Safe School Initiative” • Prior to the attack, others usually knew of attacker’s plan or idea • In 81% of incidents, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan 38 Source: “Final Report of the SSI Initiative” Vossekuil, Bryan; Fein, Robert; Randazzo-Reddy, Marisa.
  39. 39. 39 Source: OIG Report #140-07: Investigation of the April 16, 2007 Critical Incident at Virginia Tech. Prepared by: Office of the Inspector General for Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, Commonwealth of Virginia
  40. 40. Threat Management “Threat Assessment is a process to identify and respond to those… who may pose a danger to others, may pose a danger to themselves, or who may simply be struggling and in need of assistance and resources.” 40 CARE Team BIT: Behavioral Intervention Team
  41. 41. Community Education & Engagement • How do we share the successes of prevention and the threat assessment & management process to maintain awareness? – Sharing number of cases; positive success stories; survivor storytelling • What is the marketing plan for safety training and resources? How well does your community know about reporting options? – In-person trainings, syllabus mention, website resources, faculty/staff meetings, video 41
  42. 42. Threat Assessment and Management Resources “International Handbook of Threat Assessment” (Meloy; Hoffman) 42 Association of Threat Assessment Professionals ATAP
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  47. 47. Takeaways • In your community, work to increase understanding that violence is preventable • Communicate frequently with colleagues and leadership about safety issues, questions, and improvements • Help change the narrative, adopt #NoNotoriety • Recommended reading: The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signs that Protect Us from Violence, Gavin de Becker 47
  48. 48. 48 Newsletter & More Social Media Twitter: @Koshka4Schools
  49. 49. Presenter Contact Information Kristina Anderson – Chief Frank Straub (Ret.) – Jeff Allison – 1
  50. 50. 1.866.817.5817