Advanced Violence Risk Assessment Certification Course

DAY ONE

Structured Interview Violence Risk Assessment Tool (SIVRA-35) & Advanced Threat Assessment Training Interviews

More and more campuses are looking to in-source the capacity to perform violence risk assessments by behavioral intervention and threat assessment teams. The Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment (SIVRA-35) is a thirty-five-item inventory designed by Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D., that is used to assist Behavioral Intervention Team members and clinical staff in conducting a more thorough and research-based violence risk assessment. The SIVRA-35 is designed to assist with individuals identified as elevated, severe, or extreme risk by the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool (available for free at http://nabita.org/resources/threat-assessment-tools) or using similar methodologies.

The SIVRA-35 can be used as a structured questionnaire or can be scored to provide the assessor a low, moderate, or high rating of risk for a range of behaviors including:

Direct Communicated Threats

  • Social media picture postings that involve a weapon being brandished
  • Bullying or intimidating behavior (may include both the target and the perpetrator of these behaviors)
  • Disruptive behavior that includes threatening gestures, physical intimidation or aggressive outbursts
  • Potential “off color” jokes or veiled statements: “I should blow this place up!”, “I’m going to go off like that Korean kid at V-Tech.”
  • Threatening writings or drawings

Observable Behaviors/Language/Factors

  • Para-weapon or dangerous material possession like airsoft guns, the Anarchist’s Cookbook, swords, knife collections, etc.
  • Psychotic, delusional or schizophrenic talk: “I am Hitler/Jesus”, “The people in the chairs don’t swim like the others”, “I can’t cry on Tuesdays”
  • Disruptive behavior that is perceived as overly rude, entitled or includes threatening gestures, physical intimidation or aggressive outbursts
  • Odd, strange or concerning writings or drawings
  • Bloody or violence-filled tattoos
  • Lack of empathy or objectification of others

Contextual Environmental Factors

  • Obsessional pursuit and stalking
  • Return to campus following involuntary commitment or hospitalization
  • Rapid change in previously upsetting behavior without explanation
  • Elevated “contagional” response regarding other extreme events

Advanced Threat Assessment Training Interviews

Building on the success of the threat training series The New Orleans Interviews, these violence risk videos demonstrate advanced techniques and styles used in threat assessment interviews. The Advanced Threat Assessment Training Interviews consist of four vignettes –two with Myra and two with Jon as they meet with the chair of the BIT and our threat assessment professional. The videos demonstrate the differences in approach and strategy between how the  BIT/ conduct and how a more detailed violence risk assessment would approach both the scenarios.  While all on a BIT may not conduct advanced threat assessment interviews, it is important that all team members are aware of the interview process and design managed by the team as a whole. Discussions and tabletop exercises are included in this portion of the training.

Agenda

9:00am to 11:00am – How to Approach Risk

  • Structured Professional Judgment
  • Introduction to Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment (SIVRA-35)

11:00am to 11:15am – Break

11:15am to 12:30pm – SIVRA-35

  • Case examples and items 1-35 on SIVRA-35

12:30pm to 1:30pm – Lunch

1:30pm to 3:00pm – Advanced Threat Assessment Training Interviews

  • Case Study: Myra

3:00pm to 3:15pm – Break

3:15pm to 5:00pm – The New Orleans Interviews

  • Case Study: Dustin

Participants will:

  • Understand the importance of risk factors related to rampage violence and how this research can be helpful in forming an accurate threat assessment.
  • Review thirty-five common risk factors on the SIVRA-35 and understand how to apply these during a threat assessment process.
  • Explore how the SIVRA-35 can be useful as part of an overall threat assessment approach with at-risk students on a college campus.
  • Explore how the SIVRA-35 can be used through the use of case studies and interactive discussion within the workshop.
  • Review how the SIVRA-35 can be asked through a video demonstration.
  • Discuss practical application issues related to the SIVRA-35 and how it can work in conjunction with other threat assessment tools. Participants will explore the nature of structured professional judgment and scenario planning as it applies to identifying and managing threat on a college campus.
  • Review the motivations, dis-inhibitors and environmental factors that help contribute to understanding the formulation of violence risk.
  • Discuss ways to better manage at-risk students on campus through developing case management and treatment plans to address at-risk behavior.
  • Explore the nature violence in terms of threat assessment principles, risk factors and management and referral techniques through threat assessment videos.
  • Review key factors and behaviors related to rampage campus violence and understand how to intervene and report these behaviors.

DAY TWO

Violence Risk Assessment of the Written Word (VRAW2) & Social Media Threat, Introduction to R3

NaBITA’s newest violence risk assessment tool – Violence Risk Assessment of Written Word (VRAW2) – is used to assess emails, creative writing or non-fiction that contain direct threats or violent themes of concern. In this training participants will discuss how a team can deploy a set of questions to determine whether these threats are true threats or if they are simply howling behaviors or part of the student’s creative process. Learn the new rubric for VRAW2 and how to apply it in the context of the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool and the Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment (SIVRA-35). Participants will receive a copy of the VRAW2 and instructions on how to use it to assess the likelihood of violence from written word communication.

The second half of the day will focus on assessing threats made using social media, as well as an overview of how to identify the potential for radicalized, extremist violence using the Radicalization Risk Rubric R3 tool. This portion of the training will offer clinicians, administrators, law enforcement, student conduct officers and those familiar with threat assessment principles an advanced topic review on how best to identify and assess social media threats in a higher education setting. Campus Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment Teams (BIT/TAT) have become increasingly concerned with how to identify the potential for radicalization of their students toward extremist violence. There have been several recent cases where a radicalized, extremist individual carried out a terrorist attack on a college campus and increasing incidents of hardened and fixated political ideologies leading to harmful debate, aggressive exchanges and potential violence. This program explores how to assess the risk of a college student becoming radicalized and moving forward with violent actions to a person, place or system.

Presenter will:

  • Review several case examples of social media threats
  • Discuss common risk factors for violence and demonstrate how they can be applied to the existing cases to better assess the overall risk and lethality in the writing
  • Offer further resources and reading on the topic of assessing threat relevant to college campus settings

Participants will:

  • Review common cases of threat from social media posts, emails and creative fiction.
  • Explore and discuss key threat assessment concepts used to better parse the difference between a real threat and other concerning writings.
  • Review how issues of culture, personal background, requirements for certain writing majors and generational differences contribute to the growing concern around threat in creative writing and social media posts.
  • Assess and discuss threat levels from emails or creative fiction and develop intervention plans. 

Agenda

9:00am to 11:00am – VRAW2

  • Discussion of five central fist clusters of analysis
    • Fixation and focus
    • Hierarchical thematic content
    • Action and time imperative
    • Injustice collection
    • Pre-attack planning
  • Case examples from media
    • Jared Cano
    • Elliot Rodger
    • Robert Flores
    • James Holmes
    • Anders Brevick

11:00am to 11:15am – Break

11:15am to 12:30pm –

  • Case examples from campuses
    • Threat via email
    • Threat via creative fiction writing
    • Threat via non-fiction writing
  • Using VRAW2 with other assessment tools
    • SIVRA-35
    • NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool

12:30pm to 1:30pm – Lunch

1:30pm to 3:00pm –

  • Overview of Social Media Threat
    • VRAW factors applied to social media
    • Romantic fixation
    • Hunters and Howlers
    • Determining risk factors

3:00pm to 3:15pm – Break

3:15pm to 5:00pm –

  • Introduction of Radicalization Risk Rubric R3 tool
    • Defining radical thoughts and extremist actions
    • Review of literature related to risk, protective, and mobilization factors
    • Defining the 10 Risk Factors
    • Defining the 10 Protective Factors
    • Defining the 10 mobilization Factors