I would love to be able to tell you that there is one definitive violence threat assessment tool that will give you all the answers. Unfortunately, it simply isn’t true. Threat assessment tools, grids and checklists are a method of organizing your information. A good tool will help guide your inquiry and investigation so you’ll know what’s important. Some tools will help you discern what is most important by assigning weight to each question or variable. But, your threat assessment team will still need to do the work.
Violence threat assessment tools and teams
Your team needs to be made up of individuals with a clear goal and the training, practice and belief system to achieve it. It should include staff members in various roles because each of them will bring something different to the table in terms of training, experience and knowledge of the person of concern.
Together, your team will walk through the threat assessment tools they’ve selected and determine what is currently known about the subject, information that still needs to be gathered, which team members are best suited to gather specific information, preliminary conclusions and an immediate plan. It is critical to agree on a time to meet back together to review additional information gathered. At that point, a more thorough assessment will take place and a careful, well-thought-out plan will be developed and implemented. It’s important for you to remember that threat assessment is not a one-time thing. It is constantly evolving and changing as new information is gathered and discounted. Your team will need to continue to monitor and review the situation, making adjustments as needed.
The practice of violence threat assessment is itself one of the best tools we have to identify and help individuals who are struggling. Your assessment may not reveal a serious or imminent threat of danger, and that would be an ideal outcome. But, you may find someone who needs your help. Helping that person with his/her struggles, mental health issues or grievances will improve his/her life immensely and keep all of you much safer.