Taking Threats Seriously: Establishing a Threat Assessment Team and Developing Organizational Procedures

April 7, 2011
Customer service hand holding older person's hand

A client stares directly at a staff member and with alarming serenity says, "If you do that, I'll kill you." How should you respond? An employee confides that he overheard a co-worker talking about wanting to harm another colleague. What should you do? One of your staff members consults you because she is concerned that she is being stalked by a client. How will you manage the situation?

Organizations are increasingly being called upon to assess and respond to threats of workplace violence, homicidal ideations, stalking, and other situations where targeted violence is a possibility. Staff interventions have a profound impact on the outcome and safety of a threatening situation. Unfortunately, inappropriate interventions sometimes escalate a situation and precipitate violent behavior. Therefore, it is imperative that staff members respond effectively, and have policies and procedures that support them. To appropriately respond to threats, it is critical that staff members remain calm, seek assistance, and take the threat seriously8.

The role of policies and procedures

Through its policies and procedures, each organization provides its own definition of what it means to take a threat seriously. Staff members should always consult such policies for guidance when encountered with a threatening situation. Unfortunately, some organizations don’t have policies, or the existing policies are ambiguous and fail to explicitly detail the actions required of staff members. Consequently, when a threat is received, precious time is wasted while staff try to translate vague policies into an action plan. Because time is critical, this can result in poor management of a crisis situation. Organizations can prevent such a problem from occurring by establishing a threat assessment team (TAT), and clearly articulating workplace violence procedures before an incident occurs. A coordinated team approach before, during, and after a threatening incident deters potentially violent situations and maximizes the ability to provide care, welfare, safety, and security for everyone involved.

The following article reviews suggestions regarding the establishment, function, policies, and procedures of threat assessment teams compiled from the following resources: the U.S. Postal Service, the National Institute of Justice, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The role of the TAT

The primary goal of the TAT is to proactively assess the conditions, policies, and procedures of the organization in order to prevent or reduce the chances that a potentially violent situation will occur1. In the event of a threat, the TAT is also responsible for:

  • Ensuring that security is immediately provided to all affected parties
  • Acquiring the consultation and resources necessary for a comprehensive investigation
  • Investigating and assessing the risk posed by the circumstance
  • Planning and implementing a risk abatement action plan
  • Determining the appropriate interventions for both the subject and the target/s
  • Overseeing postvention
  • Documentation
  • Contributing to the future safety of the organization1

Choosing TAT members

TAT members should include a diverse group of personnel who can readily respond when someone is endangered. The core group typically includes representatives from human resources, security, and employee assistance1. Depending on the organization, the TAT might also include: medical personnel, mental health professionals, community resource personnel, union/employee representatives, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Certified Instructors, management, and supervisors.

TAT representatives should be sensitive to individuals' legal and civil rights, confidentiality issues, cultural issues, and should represent the diversity of the clientele1. A human resources or risk management representative is usually the central contact person who coordinates and convenes TAT meetings, contacts resources, documents proceedings, and provides policy/liability information. Additional members may be designated later, depending on the nature of the case.

Initial TAT meetings

The TAT's first meetings should center around the goal of assessing the work environment and setting/refining policies and procedures. According to OSHA guidelines for workplace violence prevention programs (WVPP), written polices should support the efforts of the TAT and should specifically state that the employer: 1) will refuse to tolerate violence at the workplace; 2) will develop and implement a program to reduce incidents of violence; 3) will provide adequate authority and budgetary resources toward the WVPP; 4) will encourage employee participation in the design and implementation of the WVPP; 5) will apply WVPP policies consistently and fairly to all employees; 6) will require prompt and accurate reporting of violent incidents (whether or not physical injury has occurred); and 7) will not discriminate against victims of workplace violence6.

Many organizations begin to enact these goals through the development of a well-articulated zero tolerance policy. A zero tolerance policy means that each and every act or threat of violence, regardless of the initiator, will elicit an immediate and firm response1. (For a zero tolerance policy example see: US Postal Service Threat Assessment Team Guide).

Additional proactive steps recommended by OSHA include records reviews, workplace security analyses, and workplace surveys7.

Records Reviews, Workplace Surveys, and Workplace Security Analyses

The second fundamental step of the TAT is to review previous incidents of threats or violence in order to identify patterns that may indicate the causes and nature of threatening incidents. This review will be used to identify areas of need and to revise and improve the current policy and procedure. According to OSHA, the review should examine the following:

  • Logs
  • Incident reports
  • Grievances
  • Minutes of safety meetings
  • Training records
  • Inspection records
  • Employee questionnaires
  • Insurance records
  • Workers' compensation records6

The TAT should analyze and identify any apparent trends in threatening or assaultive incidents relating to particular departments, units, job titles, unit activities, time of day, etc. Communication with similar organizations may also be useful to identify industry trends6. OSHA also suggests that the TAT solicit employee feedback through the use of a questionnaire or survey used to assess the potential risk of specific work areas/activities and to identify or confirm the need for improved security measures7.

A workplace security analysis will also help the TAT formulate ideas for preventative action. OSHA provides an inspection checklist that can be used to identify and institute control methods designed to eliminate or minimize the risks of threatening and assaultive incidents6,7. This list can guide the TAT through several tasks that should be addressed. It includes:

  • Reviewing general building area and workstation designs to ensure safe and secure conditions for employees
  • Installing appropriate lighting systems for all indoor building areas, grounds, and parking areas
  • Arranging furniture in a way that helps to prevent entrapment of employees
  • Controlling access to employee work areas (locked doors, buzzers, card access, etc.)
  • Providing identification cards for employees, sign-in/sign-out books, and escort policies for non-employees
  • Ensuring that facilities are designed to ensure the privacy of clients, yet permit employees to communicate with staff in emergency situations
  • Providing internal communication systems that enable employees to contact assistance in an emergency an identify the location of the employee (i.e., electronic alarm systems, cellular telephones, beepers, CB radios, or hand-held alarms in field situations)
  • Utilizing closed circuit television and/or metal detection systems, which permit security guards to monitor high-risk areas and to identify persons with weapons
  • Examining and maintaining security equipment on a regular basis to ensure its effectiveness
  • Ensuring that adequate personnel are available to render prompt assistance if such systems are utilized
  • Providing assistance programs for employees who are victims of domestic violence and developing procedures to ensure confidentiality and safety for affected employees
  • Developing and implementing security procedures for employees who work late or off hours, accounting for field staff, guidelines regarding when to involve in-house security or local law enforcement, and written procedures for employees to follow when entering any locations where they feel unsafe6,7

Employee Training and Education

Another essential element of proactive TAT involvement is to participate in and oversee employee training. OSHA recommends that all employees, regardless of their level of risk, should be trained in techniques for recognizing the potential for violence, the appropriate response to incidents of violence, the organization's workplace violence policies/ procedures, and skills for reporting and documenting incidents6. Through training, the organization should support and communicate the organization’s WVPP, and assure employees that if anyone reports a threat, it will be assessed by the TAT6.

(More information on OSHA's training guidelines, workplace security analyses, workplace surveys, and a sample Workplace Violence Prevention Program.  

Clear and well-defined policies are a cornerstone of prevention and demonstrate management's concern and commitment to staff safety1,2,3,4,5. However, a policy alone is not enough1. The TAT must also develop a decisive action plan that outlines procedures when there is an immediate need for response. These procedures should include clear directives for staff members (and sometimes clients) regarding their responsibility to report a threat, under what conditions, and to whom they should report the threat1.

Incident reporting procedures

A procedure for reporting threatening incidents should be developed if one is not already in place1. This procedure should apply to all types of violent incidents, whether or not physical injury has occurred (i.e., verbal abuse, threats of violence, menacing, etc.)1. Each incident should be reported to and evaluated by the TAT. (Sample incident report form.7) When a threat is reported, all members of the TAT should be contacted to meet immediately.

The first effort of the TAT should be to ensure the safety of everyone involved as soon as possible. Depending on the urgency of the situation, this may have to be enacted before the TAT is completely convened. The first team members to arrive should immediately secure the area, assist the victim, and assess the safety of others. They should also ensure that no work area is left short-staffed, assess the possibility that others may be indirectly involved, and make preliminary evaluations about the risk of a situation1. Once convened, the TAT should evaluate each of the previous response actions as a full group before moving on. Immediate issues that should be addressed by the TAT are:

  • Deciding if outside law enforcement should be contacted
  • Determining the immediate action that will be taken in regard to the threatener (if the subject is an employee, the TAT should consult with labor relations, take care to act in accordance with appropriate procedures, and to consider legal implications if placing the individual on off-duty status).
  • Ensuring confidentiality and protection from discrimination
  • Providing any necessary medical or psychological treatment
  • Contacting the Employee Assistance Program or other necessary external resources1


Once the immediate safety of the situation is secured, all primary elements of the threat report and any subsequent actions relating to the incident should be documented. Documentation should include all of the central elements of a case, yet be written succinctly1. This documentation, as well as all investigative files, should be kept secure and maintained separately from other records1. The International Association of Chiefs of Police provide a minimal list of information that should be gathered about the threatening incident4:

  • Name of the threat-maker and his/her relationship to the organization and to the recipient
  • Name(s) of the victim(s) or potential victim(s)
  • When and where the incident occurred
  • What happened immediately prior to the incident
  • The specific language of the threat
  • Physical conduct that would substantiate intent to follow through on the threat
  • How the threat-maker appeared (physically and emotionally)
  • Names of others who were directly involved and any actions they took
  • How the incident ended
  • Names of witnesses
  • What happened to the threat-maker after the incident
  • What happened to the other employees directly involved after the incident
  • Names of any staff and how they responded
  • What event(s) triggered the incident
  • Any history leading up to the incident
  • The steps that have been taken to ensure the threat will not be carried out
  • Suggestions for preventing violence in the future4

Once the preliminary information is documented, the TAT can begin the threat assessment investigation. The TAT should provide careful documentation of their reasoning throughout the investigation2. Comprehensive documentation will help to implement organizational improvements in the future and may be necessary to justify the actions and decisions of the TAT if they are ever criticized at a later time.

The investigation

The next primary objective of the TAT is to begin a comprehensive investigation that will gather information on the subject and potential targets. According to OSHA, a detailed investigation that takes place as soon as possible is imperative6.

If applicable, pictures should be taken of any injuries or damage that occurred at the site of the incident1. The primary focus of the investigation, however, will be to trace the factors that led up to the threatening incident and what factors hindered the subject’s ability to cope with such factors in a productive way2.

A crisis moment is generally the culmination of identifiable trails of problems, conflicts, disputes, and failures2. Whether it is premeditated or arises suddenly from a sense of desperation, a targeted threat of violence (or violent act) might be the only way an individual perceives that s/he can communicate feelings of injustice and resolve the situation2. "Violence is a process, as well as an act," therefore, analysis of the incident should seek to explicate this process, and multiple sources of information should be consulted to learn about a subject's behavior, interests, and level of rationality at various times2. The investigation should focus on fact-finding that will prevent the subject from continuing the threatening behavior or following through on the threat. Key elements of the investigation should include:

Gathering records and archival information

This includes (when available/appropriate): medical history, information about the subject's psychosocial stressors (i.e., family, financial, AODA issues), police records, mental health/social service records, disciplinary history, and work history/personnel file. Carefully review incidents and materials for any indication of patterned behavior. Pay special attention to any indication of the subject's potential motives, intentions, and capacities in regard to attack-related behaviors and the subject's ability to cope during times of stress2. The Secret Service Threat Assessment Suggestions (noted in the following section) offers several questions that can help guide you through the process of identifying key information.


Interview witnesses, the target/s of the threat, acquaintances, family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, landlords, social service/mental health staff, and any previous victims of the subject. It is recommended that the TAT separate and isolate affected parties and interview witnesses as soon as possible while the incident is still fresh in their minds and unaltered by other influences. Witnesses should prepare their own written statements about the circumstances leading up to the incident and what they saw and heard. The TAT should perform interviews individually and maintain their own written summaries of each interview2.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to interview the subject. This decision should be made on a case-by-case basis2. Some advantages of interviewing a subject might be that it: a) provides the subject an opportunity to explain his or her perspective of the incident; b) allows the TAT to gather information about the subject's thinking, behavior patterns, and activities regarding the target; c) provides the TAT with an opportunity to indicate to the subject that they are aware of the behavior; d) provides the TAT with opportunity to explain the seriousness of the incident and clarify the consequences; and e) offers the subject a face-saving way to re-open communication in a more productive manner2.

Under the right circumstances, a professional, respectful interview that is conducted in a nonjudgmental manner can make a positive impact on the subject's current and future behavior. On the other hand, an ineffectively conducted interview, where the interviewer is accusatory or challenging, is likely to aggravate the situation or incite violent behavior.

There are several other circumstances that may make an interview with the subject counterproductive. For example, it could be unsafe to interview a subject who has not regained physical and emotional control of their own behavior and rationality8. Or, if the subject is primarily seeking attention, the behavior may be stimulated by an interview. Similarly, a desperate subject may sense that time is running out and be prompted to engage in more extreme behavior. In such circumstances, the TAT should refrain from interviewing the subject, and instead consider referral to the EAP, contacting a physician for a psychological risk assessment, hospitalization, arrest, or other outside professional resources2.

Ultimately, the decision to conduct subject interviews should be made within the context of the overall investigative strategy2 and care should be taken to provide for the safety and security of the TAT interviewer, as well as the care and welfare of the subject. The following questions may be useful in guiding you toward a decision:

  • Is anyone's safety compromised by doing an interview with the subject?
  • Are there other ways of gaining the necessary information?
  • Have we considered the civil, legal, and confidentiality rights of the subject?
  • Do we have an interviewer with the training and experience who could successfully conduct the interview?
  • Does the use of an interview positively move us toward the goal of care, welfare, safety, and security for everyone involved?

The TAT's next step in the investigation will be to begin a process of data analysis based on the archival information and interviews. A usefully way to begin the analysis is to examine the data according to the threat assessment guidelines developed by the U.S. Secret Service4.

[Note: The following suggestions for threat assessment investigations are based on guidelines developed by the U.S. Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC). They were developed primarily for preventing the assassination of public officials, so they may not be applicable to all situations.]

These guidelines recommend that the TAT should:

  • Focus on individuals' thinking and behavior as indicators of their progress on a pathway to violent actions. Avoid "profiling" or basing assumptions on socio-psychological characteristics. In reality, accurate "profiles" for those likely to commit acts of targeted violence do not exist. The great majority of individuals who happen to match a particular profile do not commit violent acts. In addition, many individuals who commit violent acts do not match pre-established profiles.
  • Focus on individuals who pose a threat, not only on those who explicitly communicate a threat. Many individuals who make direct threats do not pose an actual risk, while many people who ultimately commit acts of targeted violence never communicate threats to their targets. Prior to making an attack, potential aggressors may provide evidence they have engaged in thinking, planning, and logistical preparations. They may communicate their intentions to family, friends, or colleagues, or write about their plans in a diary or journal. They may have engaged in "attack-related" behaviors: deciding on a victim or set of victims, determining a time and approach to attack, and/or selecting a means of attack. They may have collected information about their intended target(s) and the setting of the attack, as well as information about similar attacks that have previously occurred.
  • Once individuals who may pose a threat have been identified, ten key questions should guide the assessment of the threat:
    1. What motivated the individual to make the statement or take the action that caused him/her to come to attention?
    2. What has the individual communicated to anyone concerning his/her intentions?
    3. Has the individual shown an interest in targeted violence, perpetrators of targeted violence, weapons, extremist groups, or murder?
    4. Has the individual engaged in attack-related behavior, including any menacing, harassing, and/or stalking-type behavior?
    5. Does the individual have a history of mental illness involving command hallucinations, delusional ideas, feelings of persecution, etc., with indications that the individual has acted on those beliefs?
    6. How organized is the individual? Is he/she capable of developing and carrying out a plan?
    7. Has the individual experienced a recent loss and/or loss of status, and has this led to feelings of desperation and despair?
    8. Corroboration: What is the individual saying, and is it consistent with his/her actions?
    9. Is there concern among those that know the individual that he/she might take action based on inappropriate ideas?
    10. What factors in the individual’s life and/or environment might increase/ decrease the likelihood of the individual attempting to attack a target4?

It may be necessary to consult with outside resources or engage auxiliary TAT members during the data analysis2. For example, a psychologist or psychiatrist can provide invaluable insight if a subject has a history of diagnosed mental conditions. Or, a legal consultant can provide advice regarding "duty to warn," confidentiality rights, and the latest information on legislation, regulations, and statutes. In addition to providing special expertise, consultants may also suggest areas that might be explored in order to sharpen an investigation. Often times, a third party who has not been deeply involved with the case is able to offer a perspective that helps the TAT avoid "missing the forest for the trees" or provide ideas that redirect the investigation in a more productive direction2.

Risk Assessment

Based on the data analysis, the TAT can begin to do a risk assessment. This assessment guides the TAT in evaluating the risk posed to the target/s and developing a list of viable options for managing both the immediate and long-term implications of the situation. It is important to consider the breadth of data when assessing the risk level of a situation, because individuals utter threats for many reasons—only some of which truly involve violent intentions. Therefore, it is essential to determine if the threat is backed by the will and capacity to commit a violent act, or if the threat is actually a release of emotional energy and frustration2. The U.S. Postal Service's Priority Risk Scale provides a standard tool for evaluating a subject’s likelihood of carrying out a threat.

The risk abatement plan

If the risk assessment indicates evidence of conditions and behaviors consistent with the capacity for carrying out a threat, the TAT should clearly document the specific information and reasoning that led to this conclusion, and immediately form a risk abatement plan. The risk abatement plan specifically details the actions that will be taken to adjust the current conditions and to reduce the potential for future violence1. Because the crisis situation is generally composed of the integrated experience between several influences and factors, the risk abatement plan should target at least three key intervention areas: 1) changes to the environment, 2) intervention with the subject, and 3) intervention with the target1,2. Based on information gathered during the investigation, input from consultants, the level of risk, and the time frame for action, the TAT should generate a list of viable intervention options in each of the three areas.

Careful consideration and time should be taken to brainstorm a scope of potential interventions. In addition to internal options (i.e., EAP, ADR programs), also consider drawing on resources that may be available through other agencies and systems (i.e., victim's assistance programs, community programs, third-party mediation). Based on the options generated, the TAT will then determine a course of action and specifically list the duties that must be performed by each member of the TAT. Each of the following sections addresses some issues that may help to prioritize the interventions that will be necessary in the ensuing risk abatement plan.

Changes to the environment

Is the subject knowledgeable of the target's living patterns, work schedule, personal lifestyle, and daily activities? Have there been any efforts made to alter the target's regular patterns, reduce interaction with the subject, or prevent the subject from contacting the target? What changes in the target's lifestyle or living arrangements could make attack more difficult or less likely? Are there any alterations that can be made to the setting that facilitates or permits the violence, or at least does not stop it from occurring? Are there any changes or adjustments that can be made in the stimulus or triggering conditions that led the subject to see violence as the solution to the problem2?

Interventions with the subject How close is the subject to attempting an attack? What thresholds, if any, have been crossed (i.e., has the subject violated court orders, made a will, given away personal items, expressed willingness to die or to be incarcerated)2? What information gathered by the investigation provides clues regarding the interventions that might deter the subject from moving toward an attack? What consequences might positively affect a change in behavior? Which influences are likely to have the strongest impact on the subject's behavior (family, friends, colleagues, law, ethics, religion, etc.)? A key element of the plan will be to develop interventions that move the subject away from regarding violence as a viable option2. Recognize that even the most severe consequences may not deter a desperate individual, even if he or she is aware of these consequences. Rather, it may be useful to identify internal and external systems that might help manage the problems presented by the subject or change the subject’s life direction. "A subject engaged in activities that bring success and satisfaction is less likely to remain preoccupied with the conditions that led to the threat. Family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers may play a role in suggesting and supporting changes in the subject's thinking and behavior. In addition, mental health and social service staff may be of great assistance in aiding the subject to formulate more appropriate goals and develop skills and strengths that are likely to result in life successes2."

Interventions with the target

Is the target afraid of the subject? What might change in the target's situation to increase or decrease the risk of violence2? It is useful to involve the target in planning the interventions that will take place on his/her behalf. Ask what type of assistance would help to reduce the target's fear and anxiety and what security efforts or deterrents he/she thinks could reduce their vulnerability. Is the target informed and realistic about the need for caution? If the subject is prohibited from contact with the target, the target needs to understand what to do and who to call if the subject initiates contact. Does the target have a method of contacting assistance? Does the target have a way of protecting his/her personal safety until assistance arrives? The TAT should explain the resources that are available and assure the target of the safeguards that have been put into place. It will also be important to carefully communicate the target's responsibilities, and instruct him/her on how future communication will continue. The TAT should continue to communicate with the target and offer postvention assistance. The targets will likely have ongoing information needs related to the subject and will want to remain involved in the matter1,2.

The TAT should formulate their risk abatement plan based on the intervention strategies generated, and assign specific duties to each member of the team. It will be important to clearly document the resulting risk abatement plan, including: a list of tasks to be completed, who is responsible for each duty, the time frame for completion, and the reporting procedures that will be designated to each responsible party1. A team member should also be appointed to ensure that duties and information are communicated to the appropriate third parties. In the case that the media becomes involved, it is generally best to have one single spokesperson for the organization9. One central individual should also be designated to ensure that the duties are completed as planned and to monitor all follow-up activities1. The team should formulate a plan for communicating after the meeting, and set an appointment to reconvene for follow-up1.

Closing the case

A case can be considered for closing when the TAT deems that the subject has moved far enough away from possible violent action to no longer cause appreciable concern2. In order to determine this, it may be important to ask the following questions:

  1. What has changed in the subject's life that appears to lessen the likelihood that the subject is interested in or will attempt violent action toward the target?
  2. Which components of the risk abatement plan seemed to affect the subject’s thinking or capacity to initiate violent action, and to what extent?
  3. What life circumstances might occur that would again put the subject at increased risk of contemplating, planning, or attempting violent action toward the original target or other potential targets?
  4. Are there supports in place (or that can be developed) that will be known and available to the subject at a future time when the subject is again at risk of moving toward violent behavior2?

Post-incident review

Upon closing the case, the TAT should always complete a post-incident review2. Even when the threat is successfully thwarted, the post-incident review is essential to reduce the possibility of a similar incident occurring in the future. Essentially, the TAT should prepare a statement indicating their impressions regarding why the incident occurred, what the organization could have done to prevent it, reflection on how the TAT could have responded or managed the investigation better, feedback on the risk abatement plan, ideas for what measures can be put into place now, and recommendations for who will be responsible for such improvements2.

Even after closing a case, the TAT should continue to meet regularly and conduct periodic policy reviews, employee surveys, trainings, and worksite evaluations2,6. Although no procedures can guarantee that the subject will not follow through with a violent act, a comprehensive threat assessment team and the use of a TAT are known to help reduce the risk of violence2, contribute to the future safety of the organization, and demonstrate the best possible care, welfare, safety, and security for all involved.


1United States Postal Service. (May, 1997). Threat Assessment Team Guide (Publication 108). https://www.nalc.org/workplace-issues/resources/manuals/pub108.pdf

2Fein, R., Vossekuil, B., & Holden, G. (July, 1995). Threat Assessment: An Approach to Prevent Targeted Violence. National Institute of Justice: Research in Action.

3Post Trauma Resources. (2002). Information about Violence. www.posttrauma.com/violence.htm

4International Association of Chiefs of Police. (2002). Section 3: Threat Assessment. theiacp.org/pubinfo/pubs/pslc/ Svthreat.htm#threat

5Occupational Safety & Health Administration. (2002). Part I: Workplace Violence Awareness and Prevention: Facts and Information. US Department of Labor. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html

6Occupational Safety & Health Administration. (2002). Part II: Elements of a Workplace Violence Prevention Program. U.S. Department of Labor. www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=SLTC_STATIC&pid=33912&psearch_type=CLOBTEXTPOLICY&psearchstr=threat+assessment&p_text_version=FALSE#ctx1

7Occupational Safety & Health Administration. (2002). Part III: Sample Workplace Violence Prevention Program. U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html

8Crisis Prevention Institute. (2002). Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training Program Instructor's Manual.

9Criminal Justice Resources Homepage. (2002). School Safety and Violence. www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/crimjust/school.htm

U.S. Postal Service Priority Risk Scale

Priority 1
(Extreme Risk)
Indicates a clear and immediate threat of violence to identifiable target(s). There is a directly stated threat of violence, a clearly identified target (person, worksite, or organization), and a specific description of the intended violent act.

Priority 2
(High Risk)
A threat of violence, usually to an identifiable target, but currently lacking immediacy and/or a specific plan; or a specified plan of violence, but currently lacking a specific target.

Priority 3
(Moderate Risk)
A relatively nonspecific threat of violence from a person expressing concerns with personal and/or organizational issues. The threatener does not indicate a clear and immediate threat of violence to an identifiable target. The threatener appears to be insufficiently influenced by current circumstances to engage in a dangerous act.

Priority 4
(Low Risk)
No threat of violence indicated. No implication of current danger or threat of violence. Possibility of verbal or other inappropriate communications, which include derogatory comments without specific or implied threats of violence.

Reprinted from the Journal of Safe Management of Disruptive and Assaultive Behavior (JSM), Volume X, Number 2, Summer 2002. Certified Instructors, log in to read more JSM articles.

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