STOW: Local Psychologist Dr. Al Grzegorek met with the safety task force at Stow City Hall Thursday to discuss possible strategies of threat assessment.
According to Grzegorek, threat assessment uses a set of strategies to determine the credibility and the seriousness of a threat and the potential likelihood that it will be carried out. A team of trained individuals will then assess the validity of the threat and take preventative measures.
Grzegorek provided the task force with information about certain assessments that he had developed and researched that he thought might be of value as the task force looks into threat assessment.
“I think that the threat assessment model is the way to go. As you know, with all of the events that have happened, with all of the aftermath of what has occurred, our tendency has been to react to what has happened, as opposed to try to prevent what has happened,” Grzegorek said.
Grzegorek said that now there is growing calls for school districts, for companies and for organizations to move to a threat assessment and management model.
“This model of dealing with potential violence, that we are going to try to be very aware of behaviors and utterances in our organizations,” Grzegorek continued. “That in fact suggests that an individual is angry or possibly has some mental health problems, or for some other reason is extremely angry, feels disrespected, disenfranchised and in some way isolated and not considered a positive individual,”
Grzegorek said, the person exhibiting these behaviors at some point “begins to feel that I have been totally striped of my dignity or the person may say ‘I don’t have any ability at all to live successfully in this environment and in this world. I don’t have any option available to me and if I go and perpetrate some violence on someone, then in fact I will feel vindicated and in that process I may feel something that I haven’t felt before and that is powerful.’”
According to Grzegorek, the individual may really not care if they lose their own life as a result of committing a violent act because the consequences of doing what they are ideating about could not be any worse than what they feel they have already suffered.
“If you look at the Newtown incident and if you look at all of these other situations that have occurred, what you find is all of these people shared some aspect of that experience of life, that assessment of what was done to them, that assessment of what their alternatives were and then began saying to themselves, I need to in fact resolve the bad that has been done to me,” Grzegorek said.
Grzegorek said there are certain utterances, threats and other behaviors that a potentially violent person will exhibit.
“If we could only have observed them and understood what they were and what they meant and why this individual was doing this,” Grzegorek said. “Then possibly we could come up with a plan to try help prevent the violence of this individual through planning.”
Grzegorek said treat assessment and management is done with a plan to stop these bad things from happening. The intent is not to just go and arrest and punish the person who feels this way, but rather prevent and help.
The next Stow Safety Task Force meeting will be at 5 p.m. Feb. 21.