VIDEO: Jim Satterfield Discusses Identifying Behaviors of Concern

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In 2017, 12 percent of organizations activated their crisis plans due to an active shooter or gun scare*. Twelve percent may not seem like a significant number, until that number includes your workplace, a loved-one’s organization, or a child’s school. We can all agree that stopping violence from entering the door of any business or school is paramount. That’s why for more than ten years, we have aggregated best practices from many sources in the mental health, threat assessment, law enforcement and education sectors to mitigate episodes of violence. We’ve sought extensive resources, including guidance from the United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Education, Association of Threat Management Professionals, American Psychological Association, Department of Labor, OSHA, Department of Defense, Colorado School Safety Resource Center and other thought leaders on the topic of violence.

These resources, combined with the experience and learning garnered from hands-on crisis response to episodes of violence by the Firestorm team, resulted in the design of a process and methodology for our Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment Program (BERTHA®). Integrating this information with the extensive experience in responding to actual episodes of violence has enabled Firestorm to develop both the methodology and processes embodied in the BERTHA® program.

Firestorm Co-Founder and CEO, Jim Satterfield, sat down with the thought-leaders from Church Mutual Insurance Company to discuss the BERTHA® program.

*Based upon Firestorm Analytical Solutions Crisis Event Impact Management Report

The BERTHA® Program, which stands for Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment, is just that – a program to identify behaviors that pose threats. Using this program, an organization can identify suspicious behaviors and then complete an assessment: is the person on a path to violence? Can the organization intervene and help the person, therefore creating a positive outcome?

In structure, the BERTHA® program begins with the goal of ensuring an organization is aware that there are behaviors of concern exhibited. First, identify if the behavior is a normal disciplinary issue. Is the behavior something the organization handles on a regular basis? If so, then handle it based upon traditional protocol. Upon investigating, however, identify if the behavior poses an imminent threat and if it is urgent. If this is the case, call the police. The BERTHA® Program enables organizations to identify, categorize and handle behaviors of concern.

Bertha Reporting Levels

Once a behavior (or threat) is identified, it must be evaluated and placed into one of four categories: guarded, elevated, severe or imminent. Different steps are taken at each level. The guarded level is more than the normal discipline routine. A guarded risk may warrant some supervision, intervention and on-going monitoring. An organization must  would work individually with the person exhibiting behaviors of concern.

In the elevated level–  in between guarded and severe – an organization considers consultation with Threat Management Professional to determine next steps.

Behaviors in the severe level are close to a violent act and requires consultation with a Threat Management Professional to determine next steps. If a person exhibits a behavior of concern classified as an imminent risk, this requires initiation of immediate safety protocols to protect employees and workplace assets. Call upon law enforcement or other trained professionals to handle situation.

A person who was expelled or removed from a facility must have a letter from a psychologist or psychiatrist indicating they are ready to reenter the organization. The organization must implement a reentry plan, including a detailed case management and monitoring process, associated with the situation.

All information regarding behaviors of concern must be submitted to a central repository. This step is very important because one person may see one suspicious behavior; another person may see something else; a third may witness a completely different action. How an organization stores all of that knowledge together in a single format will make a difference.Bertha Process Chart Firestorm

Whether your organization is large or small, whether it’s a business, school or church – we all have the same objective: to mitigate acts of violence. One way to deter violent situations is by reducing the probability that someone is on a path of violence to themselves or others. By implementing the BERTHA® Program, organizations can stop behaviors from escalating to violence.

Our partnership with Church Mutual provides the BERTHA® Program to all Church Mutual customers for the first year at no cost. If your organization is interested in forming a similar partnership, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Implementing the BERTHA® Program provides organizations a chance to learn more and to train their people so that behaviors of concern don’t become a crisis.

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