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Threat Assessment in Virginia

Threat Assessment in Virginia
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Over the past decade, the Commonwealth of Virginia has led the nation in efforts to implement threat assessment procedures in institutions of higher education and pre-K-12 public schools.  In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring public institutions of higher education to establish threat assessment teams with the goal of preventing violence on campus by assessing behaviors and intervening with individuals who may pose a threat to campus safety. In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation requiring all public school divisions to establish and operate threat assessment teams in support of their schools- making Virginia the first state in the country to require such action.    

This legislation also requires the Division of Public Safety Training and the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (PST-VCSCS) to develop model policies, collect quantitative data from schools using a case management tool, and provide technical assistance to schools on threat assessment-based protocols. To satisfy these requirements, the VCSCS worked hand in hand with research partners, service providers, and subject matter experts to provide resources for schools, campuses, and law enforcement.  

Since the passage of legislation which mandated the creation of a threat assessment team in all Virginia public schools, threat assessment has been a hot, and oftentimes confusing, topic. To assist, the VCSCS published model policies and procedures for threat assessment teams, and offers basic threat assessment training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, each year VCSCS offers several training sessions on threat assessment.  The training features an overview of threat assessment, details of forming and operating a threat assessment team, the identification of threats, and legal issues, among other topics.  Visit the VCSCS Training Page to find trainings near you or request a session in your locality by completing the Training Request Form

Higher Education

Virginia Code states that each public institution of higher educations must establish a threat assessment team that includes representatives from law enforcement, mental health professions, student affairs, human resources, and if available higher education counsel. The purpose of the team is to implement assessment, intervention, and action policies such as recognition of threatening behaviors and threat reporting mechanisms.  The teams are also required to establish relationships with local and state law enforcement and mental health agencies to assist in assessment and intervention.

Pre-K-12

Per Virginia Code, all Virginia pre-k-12 public schools must be covered by a threat assessment team and each school board must adopt policies for the assessment of individuals and students whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of the school. Each team must include persons with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration, and law enforcement. The team should work to provide guidance to students, faculty, and staff on recognizing threatening behavior, identify members of the school community to whom threats should be reported, implement threat assessment policies and procedures, and report data on threat assessments to VCSCS.  For a quick overview of threat assessment in Virginia‚Äôs pre-K-12 schools, check out the VCSCS video: An Overview of Threat Assessment Prevention.

A threat assessment is a fact-based process emphasizing an appraisal of observed (or reasonably observable) behaviors to identify potentially dangerous or violent situations, to investigate/assess them, and to manage/address them.

The goal of threat assessment is to determine if the subject is on a pathway to violence.  The overall goal of threat assessment is to ensure the safety of all involved.  


VCSCS Threat Assessment Resources

K-12 Threat Assessment Management MPPG K-12 Threat Assessment Overview    
   

Threat Assessment and Management in Virginia Public Schools: Model Policies, Procedures and Guidelines - pdf

Essential Elements: School Threat Assessment and Management Model Policies and Procedures

K-12 Threat Assessment in Virginia: A Prevention Overview for School Staff, Parents, and Community Members

K-12 Threat Assessment Video

K-12 Threat Assessment Form - Fillable pdf

K-12 Threat Assessment Form - Fillable MSWord

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About K-12 Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management

Technical Assistance for Threat Assessment and Management Teams for Virginia Schools and Institutions of Higher Education

Information Sharing Guide for K-12 Public Schools

Other Threat Assessment Resources and Articles of Interest
 

A Toolkit for Strengthening K-12 Reporting Programs (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

What Threat Assessment Is and Is Not (USSS)

The American School Shooting Study (TASSS)

Five Facts About Mass Shootings in K-12 Schools (NIJ)

United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center

Averting Targeted School Violence: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Plots Against Schools - 2021

Targeted Violence Prevention Resources for K-12 Schools - 2023 (SchoolSafety.gov)

Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence (July 2018 - National Threat Assessment Center)

Protecting America's Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence (2019 -  National Threat Assessment Center)

Mass Attacks in Public Spaces - 2019 (National Threat Assessment Center)

Echoes of Columbine Documentary

US DOJ School Tip Line Toolkit: A Blueprint for Implementation and Sustainability

Plan for Implementation of a Statewide School Safety Mobile Application

Suicide Prevention Guidelines for Virginia Public Schools - 2020

Mitigating Negative Impacts of Social Isolation to Prevent Violence: Information for Parents and Educators of School-Aged Children (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

The Averted School Violence system (ASV) is an online library of school attacks from across the country that were prevented, as well as attacks that came to fruition. The purpose of the ASV system is to systematically collect and analyze incidents of averted or carried out school violence and provide a platform to facilitate the timely exchange of information among school safety professionals. For more information, please view the project fact sheet, visit https://www.avertedschoolviolence.org/, or call the Police Foundation at 202-833-1469.

National Institute of Justice - Notes from the Field: The Value of Threat Assessment Teams

K-12 Threat Assessment Contacts

Brad Stang, Threat Assessment Program Coordinator
804.786.3973
Email Brad

Shellie Evers, Center for School and Campus Safety Supervisor 
804.629.7042
Email Shellie