July 13, 2018
New guidelines underscore value of technology-backed prevention efforts
In the aftermath of the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the May 18 shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, the U.S. Secret Service launched an initiative to provide schools with updated research and guidance on how to prevent targeted acts of violence.
This month, the USSS completed the first phase of the initiative with the release of a new operational guide, Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model. The content was developed by the USSS’ Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division within the National Threat Assessment Center. The guide is designed to provide a basic outline for schools to develop a targeted violence prevention plan, “the goal of which is to decrease the risk of students engaging in harm to themselves or the school community.”
In addition to establishing a threat assessment team and defining concerning behaviors, the guide recommends that schools establish a central reporting mechanism for alerting officials and security authorities to concerning behaviors that could be precursors of violent activity. The recommendations are as follows:
- Establish one or more reporting mechanisms, such as an online form, a dedicated email address or phone number, smart phone application platforms, or other mechanism.
- Provide training and guidance to students, teachers, staff, parents and school resource officers in how to recognize concerning behaviors and how to report the information.
- There should be an option for passing information to school officials and security officials anonymously, as students are more likely to report concerning or threatening information when they can do so without fear of retribution for coming forward.
- Schools or school districts need to establish a threat assessment team and ensure that a team member proactively monitors all incoming reports and can respond immediately when someone’s safety is concerned.
- The school community should feel confident that team members will be responsive to concerns and that reports will be acted upon, kept confidential and handled appropriately.
LiveSafe Powers Prevention
Co-founded by Kristina Anderson, the most injured survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting, LiveSafe enables business enterprises and college campuses to leverage the safety and security observations of their employees and students. It transforms employees and students into mobile human sensors capable of delivering actionable intelligence on emerging threats.
The heart of the LiveSafe Platform is an easy-to-use, intuitive mobile app that lives on the one thing that almost everybody has on their person at almost all times — the smartphone. The app can be configured to your organization’s particular needs. It allows an organization’s user base to send and receive important security and safety information.
But most important of all, it provides users the ability to remain anonymous.
Maintaining anonymity has historically been one of the biggest obstacles to increasing engagement in anti-terrorism reporting programs. LiveSafe provides that option, removing a major barrier to increased engagement.
Having the LiveSafe App tied back to your local organization, company or university also ensures two-way communications between you and the local security officials tasked with maintaining your safety. As a LiveSafe user, you can receive broadcast notifications from your local security operations center and even engage in 1-to-1 communications during incidents or observations.
Self-service tools, like a safety map and clickable resources, enable users to take control of their personal safety in everyday situations and during high-risk scenarios.
Heading out on your own this weekend? The SafeWalk feature allows LiveSafe users to invite friends to virtually accompany them to their destination, ensuring that you get to where you are going safely.
All of this grassroots risk reporting is intelligently routed to the appropriate security officials in your organization. From tips supported by photos, videos and location data, to broadcast alert messaging that can be filtered to specific organizational subgroups or even custom geofenced areas on the dashboard map, the LiveSafe Command and Control Dashboard enables two-way risk intelligence sharing in a way that moves organizations from a posture of reaction to one of prevention. And in the case of a natural disaster or an incident beyond your control, the Check-in feature provides the ability to quickly and easily ascertain the safety status of your LiveSafe-enabled employees.
Community-sourced intelligence that can shift an organization’s security posture from reaction to prevention is now a reality with LiveSafe. We all have a role to play in preventing targeted acts of violence in our nation’s schools. And now we all have a way to make a difference.
About Dan: Dan Verton is a Homeland Security Subject Matter Expert & Content Writer at LiveSafe. He is also an award-winning journalist, former military intelligence officer, and author of Left of Boom: The Citizen’s Guide to Detecting and Preventing Terrorist Attacks.