Recognizing the signs of violence

Dec. 3, 2015
Taking a proactive approach to workplace violence can help security professionals take preventative measures

As I began writing this article, there was an active shooter incident occurring in San Bernardino, California, where gunmen were firing upon people attending a holiday party in a government facility. A day later we now know there were 14 killed and 17 injured, in what is a horrific example of either workplace violence or terrorism.

This event serves as another stark reminder that all of the programs we put in place, too often, do not prevent these rampage shootings.  Our hearts and minds go out to all of those injured and to the families who lost loved ones and we owe it to these victims to make every effort to prevent future shootings.

Too often, security and law enforcement arrive on the scene after employees have been killed.  The critical question becomes, "Is there a way to prevent this initial slaughter of employees?"  Once security and law enforcement arrives, further lives can be saved, but how do we prevent stepping over those 14 slain and 17 injured during those initial horrific moments?

Although the San Bernardino shootings may have required days or weeks of preparation, I have no way of knowing whether what I am about to share with you would have prevented this incident. I am saying there is a scientifically validated way to predict and prevent future shootings, which is what I will share with you.  I submit to each of you who reads this article, you have a professional obligation to these victims to explore every means to prevent future shootings and the subsequent loss of lives.

The Problem

Before I share the solution, let’s explore the problem.  We believe that many current methods prevent violence, but in fact they merely react to violence and that is unacceptable.  I realize there is an entire industry built around the notion of violence prevention through threat assessment, but too often threat assessment fails to prevent violence. 

We use threat assessment as a means to identify an initial "lesser" threat in hopes of preventing a subsequent "greater" threat, but there is no assurance that the "initial lesser threat" will not be a threat to life or limb.  Here is just one example: When did the Navy learn that Aaron Alexis (the Navy Yard Shooter) was a threat; not until he was killing people (13 people before security arrived).  Threat assessment may prevent deaths from subsequent threats but it does not prevent the deaths from initial threats! We must prevent the initial threat.

The Solution

Although there is no "absolute" violence predictability or prevention that is 100 percent fail-safe; there is reliable and objective predictability and prevention as demonstrated by the findings of the Safe School Initiative Study, a collaborative effort conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Justice. This study stated that, "The ultimate question to answer in an inquiry is whether a person is on a path to a violent attack."  And more recently, the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center’s chief, Andre Simmons, stated their ability to prevent violence is predicated on identifying a person who is "on a pathway to violence." Finally, the federal government is coming around to agree with what we developed twenty-one years ago.

The most sophisticated predictive security methods for preventing terrorism are found in Israel. The Israelis use the following predictive sequences to identify future terrorists. Terrorists tend to:

  • Gather information and select their target,
  • Conduct operational planning,
  • And, execute and make statements of responsibility

These initial predictive glimpses used to identify a future violent attack represent the Center for Aggression Management's seventh, eighth and ninth stage cognitive aggressors. In other words, the Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS) has six more, scientifically-validated, predictive sequential precursors beyond, and prior to, the most sophisticated predictive methods on the globe.

If you are trying to take a proactive stance against any type of workplace violence, school violence, executive violence, or terroristic acts, wouldn't it be preferable to have six more opportunities to prevent the next attack of violence, and therefore, more reliably prevent it from occurring?

Twenty-one years ago, the Center for Aggression Management developed the primal and cognitive aggression continua, and now our scientifically-validated Critical Aggression Prevention System can be used to identify any individual, regardless of their culture, gender, education, age or sexual orientation, that may be "on the path to a violent attack." We can identify the human precursors to any attack of violence, including terrorism, and thereby, significantly enhance our ability to prevent them from occurring.

Would you like to know how?  Invest one-hour and watch our comprehensive description to learn how we can prevent the next shooting.

About the Author: John D. Byrnes is Founder and CEO of the Center for Aggression Management