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ISJ Exclusive: Pre-Show Coverage – GSX


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ISJ takes a closer look at one of GSX 2022’s most thought-provoking sessions, presented by Rick Shaw, Founder/Pre-Incident Prevention Expert, Awareity and Jason Destein, Director of Violence Prevention Strategies, Securable Alternatives.

Targeted violence is becoming an all too frequent and disturbing trend in our society today.  Numerous acts of violence and mass casualty events in schools, houses of worship, business organisations and communities dominate the news headlines and create untold stressors, challenges, concerns, liabilities, costs and other unwanted consequences for all.

This trend of increasing violence has leaders of schools, organisations and communities, as well as community members, asking why violence is increasing and what can be done to stop the violence before it happens.

This session, ‘How To Create Your Organization’s Pathway to Prevention! 10 Steps to Preventing Acts Of Targeted Violence’, available only at the GSX 2022 annual conference, explores new ideas and approaches to evidenced-based violence prevention strategies and will take the audience step by step through what and evidenced based violence prevention program and pre-incident prevention looks like and how it can help save lives. 

There has been so much emphasis on the pathway to violence and well-deserved research to support all the work in this area. From this, we have learned valuable lessons and have been able to develop new approaches to violence and causations. In this session, Jason Destein and Rick Shaw will present the audience with the question: “If there is a pathway to violence, then why do we not explore the pathway to prevention?” 

Taking a closer look

While the pathway to violence is well documented, the research on the pathway to prevention has been taking place for 20+ years, however, this valuable research has been largely overlooked to our own detriment.

This extensive research on the pathway to prevention also exposed the “profile of failed preventions” and helped to identify the common gaps, silos and disconnects that led to failures in preventing incidents and tragedies even though more than enough pre-incident indicators, sources and resources existed.

If we step back and really look at an attack, we find there are typically three phases: 1) Pre-Incident Actions; 2) The Incident/Attack; 3) Post Incident Responses.  

Most of our efforts today are spent on trying to deter attacks as the threat approaches and or trying to respond faster in order to minimise harm after the act of violence has occurred. We spend billions every year of new technology and training, but all of this spending is on ideas and technology that really only work once the threat actor(s) arrive at our doorsteps.

If the threat actor(s) are at the door, it is because they are simply undeterred and committed to their attack. It is too late for countermeasures and all we can do is hope to respond faster in order to mitigate further harm.

If we are being honest with ourselves, we have to recognise that we do not spend the effort or devote the proper resources to true violence prevention practices. Part of the problem is that we often conflate deterrence and prevention viewing both as the same effort. This leads to a false sense of security and tends to create more gaps and silos in security operations and leads to more points of disconnect between teams thus causing communication breakdowns; this is why we miss most of the pre-incident warning signs.

Deterrence is a static effort that relies on hardware and software used to help detect, document, hopefully deny and perhaps defend if possible. Deterrence, however, only extends to the perimeter of the property of the organisation or institution thus causing a reactionary approach should a threat arrive.

Prevention is a dynamic effort, it is a science, that is in constant motion and requires active observation.

To create a “Pathway to Prevention” we must understand that pre-incident prevention takes advantage of and combines software, strategy and people (sources and resources) in a way that increases our ability to identify, collect, share, assess and connect the almost always available pre-incident indicators or warning signs that allow for preventative actions to be taken earlier in an at-risk-individuals pathway to violence.

The benefits and advantages of pre-incident prevention

There are numerous other benefits and added value that pre-incident prevention platform tools and strategies offer to schools, organisations and communities. When pre-incident prevention occurs, there is:

  • no incident
  • no trauma
  • no negative headlines
  • no lawsuits
  • no insurance claims
  • no added costs of responding to the incident
  • no added costs of recovering from the incident
  • no long term consequences
  • no reputation damages
  • no short term or long term interruptions
  • no lifelong feelings of regret 

The earlier we can identify pre-incident indicators and warning signs and begin to build actionable intelligence, the less risk we are likely to face.  If we fail to identify these pre-incident indicators and warning signs early and the threat emerges without detection, obviously the risk is greater and likely to occur. Casualties and cost will increase as will the detrimental effects on the local community. 

This session will take a deep dive to examine past events, research and evidence to better understand was known prior to the attacks, what pre-incident indicators were missed and, more importantly, why the pre-incident indicators were missed and not acted on.

During the session, Jason Destein and Rick Shaw will share their ten steps for preventing acts of targeted violence and share valuable research-based evidence and lessons learned that help explain the “pathway to prevention” as well as the “profile of failed preventions”.

While there is no profile for active assailants, there is a profile of failed preventions – and this session will share the common gaps, silos and disconnects that existed in 1999 with Columbine and still exist with the latest targeted violence attacks we have seen in Highland Park, Uvalde, Buffalo, Oxford and far too many others for far too many years.

GSX provides the perfect environment for this all too important session as it allows for in-person attendance as well as a live virtual session. Having the ability to reach thousands of people at the same time is incredible and further amplifies the sharing of vital research and ideas that can help save lives. 

Being able to network with peers and others seeking new knowledge or concepts in the security and violence prevention industry is invaluable and brings us all closer together. 

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This article was originally published in the special September show edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here

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