Involving Multi-Disciplinary SMEs in Security Strategies is the Best Approach to Tracking Threats in the Workplace




The current state of handling workplace violence seems to be reactive, awaiting a triggering incident rather than proactive one. Society, employers, and law enforcement have become adept at responding to acts of targeted violence and are training employees on response techniques. But the key is to shift the focus from response to prevention. 

Repeated occurrences of mass violence in workplaces are not isolated or decreasing. Instead, they are part of a growing trend that has gained consciousness in the security world. Understanding and identifying concerning behaviors before they escalate into tragedies is a top concern and it is feasible with a multidisciplinary approach. It requires collaboration from more than several subject experts to recognize and mitigate risks efficiently, employing mechanisms to ensure no step is left overlooked. General understanding surrounding preventive strategies are anticipated to make discussions on violence prevention and behavioral threat assessment more commonplace in the coming years.

Josh Shelton, Senior Security Specialist at FedEx, knows all too well that security strategies and violence prevention is crucial in navigating the complexities of targeted violence in professional settings. He described observations he made at GSX 2023, takeaways from his own learning session at the show, and why tracking behavioral patterns and involving stakeholders across a company is a vital step in proactive workplace violence prevention.

Shelton’s Thoughts on Behavioral Threat Prevalence

The Essence of Proactive Prevention

“So, the main idea here is that prevention of targeted violence in the workplace is possible. Right now, it feels like we are so focused on the response to these mass attacks and incidents. You know, we respond very well. Law enforcement does a great job of responding to these things. We teach our employees run, hide, fight. The problem with all that is that it is right of bang. The idea that we can’t do anything until something happens. So anything that happens after that is right of bang and it’s always going to be slow because action is always faster than reaction. We’re not going to be able to overcome that reactionary gap. So, the idea is that there are behaviors of concern that we can identify to prevent these things from happening in the first place.”

Behavioral Recognition

“We know that attackers take a pathway from, you know, being aggrieved and being angry about something all the way to carrying out an attack. And so learning about what those behaviors are before they become a tragedy is really the key message of my presentation.”

The Rising Awareness and Trend

“Well, it certainly would appear that the awareness of the problem is growing. It appears that we are seeing more and more of these incidents of mass violence in the workplace. And our industry is no exception to that. The idea, though, is that this is something novel that has just kind of come into the consciousness of the security world in the past, you know, 10, 20 years. But I expect that we’re going to see this as a trend grow. And in the next five to 10 years, I think this will be a much, much more common subject at events like this.”

Multidisciplinary Approach and Effective Strategies

“Yeah, one of the first things that we have to recognize is that this is not a single silo job. This is not the job of security alone. An effective behavioral threat assessment strategy includes multiple disciplines. So we want subject matter experts from human resources. We want subject matter experts from our legal team. We need subject matter experts from our operations partners to come together and identify these behaviors and talk about how we can intervene and how we can make things better. So the team approach is really something I think that we need to understand is crucial to this process.”

Innovative and Essential Instruments

“And then there’s tools that we use and instruments that we use that are both innovative and essential to make sure that we don’t forget steps along the way. So just like if you’re, you know, if you’re on an airplane and there’s a problem, do you want a pilot who’s remembering what to do when things go wrong from memory? Or do you want them using a checklist and make sure that they hit all the right spots and make sure that they don’t forget the important stuff? And so we use those instruments to help us guide us, you know, as a team, but not a single silo job anymore.”

Observation on Behavioral Threat Assessment

“I just noticed that there were a lot more sessions on violence prevention and behavioral threat assessment specifically, so I’m looking forward to that continuing.”

Article written by Alexandra Simon.

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