Preventing Mass Attacks in Public Spaces

people moving through train stationThe Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) released a report, Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2018 (MAPS-2018), identifying key information related to mass attacks and their perpetrators. This year’s study expands upon the findings published in NTAC’s previos report, Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2017 (MAPS-2017). This annual overview aims to recognize the motives, early behavioral signs, and trends that are common among the attackers.

Building upon data from 27 mass attacks that took place in the United States in 2018, the report provides an analysis of “individuals who exhibit threatening or concerning behavior.” In addition, the report identifies “appropriate interventions, resources, and supports to manage that risk.” Specifically, MAPS-2017 found that workplace grievances and domestic issues were the most common motives behind mass attacks. Meanwhile, the majority of the attacks tend to involve the use of privately owned firearms. This year’s report highlights prior histories of mental health issues and incidents of domestic violence among the attackers. Furthermore, the majority of the attackers had made “threatening or concerning communications.”

Given the commonalities among the majority of the attackers, the report suggests that “targeted violence might be preventable.” In particular, the Secret Service “Threat Assessment” model of identifying, assessing, and managing early risk signs of violence offers one of the most effective prevention methods. Significantly, many community members, including workplace managers, school administrators, and health providers can lead early prevention efforts. As such, this model requires the involvement of all stakeholders, both from the local communities, as well as the law enforcement.

The HSDL offers many additional resources related to Active Shooters, Mass Gatherings, and School Violence. Please note: some of these resources require a HSDL login.

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