i need a 3page onAnother critical issue in conducting a threat assessment is determining what questions to ask. Certainly questions concerning owning weapons or having a history of violence are rather obvious. Come up with at least 10 (and no more than 15) behaviorally-oriented questions to ask Pete from this case study and explain individually your reasoning for asking each of these questions
Pete is a 32-year-old man who has been working for a
company for a little over 8 years. He is
a mechanic by trade, but drives a forklift for this company. Everyone describes Pete as a “hothead” at
times, moody and just generally hard to get along with. He recently claimed to have hurt his back on
the job and so is off work, but because he has abused his sick leave in the
past, he is about to run out of this, vacation and other paid leave he can
take. Ted, Pete’s immediate supervisor, has just been informed by human
resources that this is the case and he must now call Pete to determine his
status---something Ted is not looking forward to, as he and Pete have had
numerous run-ins over the last couple of months. In fact, just prior to Pete’s
going off on this job injury, Ted had given him a written reprimand for not
doing what he was told to do and arguing with his co-workers over an
Ted telephones Pete to tell him of his status he can tell Pete is under the
influence of something – and it is only 10:00 a.m. Pete says he doesn’t have to
come back to work because he has a doctor’s note. Ted keeps telling him no one
knows about that and if Pete doesn’t come back to work by Friday eh will be
terminated. Pete replies, “F…you. You’ve been after me since I started working
there. You can’t fire me if you’re dead!” and he hangs up on Ted.
this a threat or merely a statement of fact? Certainly Ted believes it’s a
threat; he tells the human resource people, they contact the company’s attorney
and the decision is made to have security contact Pete to explore his
statement. For the sake of this scenario, let’s assume the company’s assessor
has done everything right up to this point, following the guidelines for the
assessment process we have been discussing in this text, including utilizing
some of the tools in Chapter 4, such as the Assessment grid. Following the
Response Grid in the same chapter, you have initiated a criminal background
check, you’ve conducted appropriate interviews with Ted and others and you have
reviewed Pete’s personnel file. Not surprisingly, there are numerous discipline
notations (including a 2-week suspension for insubordination) and performance
problems noted in his file and his criminal record includes convictions for
driving under the influence (one) and public intoxication (two).
interviews produce important background information. You confirm there are no organizational
problems and there are no apparent personnel problems other than with Pete.
Everyone tells you Pete has a quick temper, that he walks and talks like he is
really tough and everyone just better keep their distance – which they do
anyway. Everyone seems to agree Pete is a loner, and when he does interact with
people, it is to try to con them into doing something that would benefit him.
You also learn from a couple of his co-workers that Pete mentioned he once
threatened to stab another kid when he was 14 because he caught him cheating on
his share of the marijuana they were selling to classmates. Everyone seem s to
agree that Pete smokes marijuana, snorts cocaine, seems to love to get drunk
and then threaten to beat up those in authority – as long as they are not
addition, his supervisor tells you he is fearful of Pete and believes Pete
wants to kill him. You know this supervisor and his reputation in the company;
there is no indication he is unreasonable or has any problems with others. And
finally, human resources tell you, through the privileged communication of the
attorney, they would just as soon never have to see Pete again. Your “homework”
done, you are faced with just one last question. What is the best way to
contact Pete – or should you?
is where a consultation with a violence assessment specialist or someone who is
versed in understanding human behavior and also has the experience of dealing
with potentially violent people becomes valuable – not only because of the
ability to assess the violence potential, but to address the question of
approaching Pete and how to do it in the safest fashion. It is also a good time
to consult with a labor law attorney concerning the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) issues, workmen’s compensation, the Family and Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) and other legal concerns. This will also allow you to speak quite
frankly about what you have, what you want to do versus what you are legally
required to do and what the legal ramifications are, in any, of one set of
actions versus another.
advantage of psychologist consultants is that they could advise you that Pete
is probably and antisocial personality. This comes from common psychological
concepts that have been researched and developed over many years. Why is this
important and what does that mean for you? It offers insight into the
behavioral aspects on how best to approach Pete or someone like Pete as we have
identified a likely personality trait that has some consistent expectation. It
is important to note that it suggests some consistent expectations, because
there are many variations even in this psychological category – some very
extreme. For example, it could be said that Jeffrey Dahmer was antisocial,
which is putting it mildly. But, at the other extreme, you may have a neighbor
who is described as antisocial but has never committed a crime in his life.
assessing Pete a bit more, it can be suggested that his “tough-guy” role is
probably not only something he is comfortable with, but also perceived by Pete
as the only way to get what he wants – or at least to guarantee that no one
will take advantage of him. This also tells us his general demeanor is his
crutch, his mask, his security blanket; call it what you like, it is critical
to him. Is this the kind of person you can approach and not expect him to get
angry? And what does his anger really mean? Will contacting him push him over
the edge where he may harm someone?
form a clinical perspective; you need more information before attempting to
answer these questions. Thus, this may be a consideration as to whether you use
clinical psychologists in such a matter, although they are often called upon to
assist in these types of cases and explain many questionable behaviors.
However, the best resolution can only be achieved after talking to Pete.
is impossible to effect an assessment without talking to the instigator –- in essence;
in this case, a probable character disorder was chosen to label Pete. From that label, reasonable assumptions can
be made about his behavior. One can
certainly make an educated guess about likely conduct and, at the very least,
if a certain action occurs, because it has been determined that Pete is an
antisocial personality, reasonable recommendations can be made of the best
manner in which to respond to that action to either mitigate a volatile act or
direct him toward a more reasonable action.
But, in this case, the only are the obvious ADA issues to consider, but
we also want to be sure Pete is left intact.
You’re not a therapist and are not your job to help Pete change his character
disorder. You want Pete to feel good
about his position of control while at the same time convince him continued
employment with this company is not reasonable or in his best interest. This will require indirect interview with
is also important to learn the breadth of the focus of Pete’s anger. The more narrow the focus (he wants to harm
only Ted) the more ascertaining his specific thought process to accomplish this
harm becomes in determining his true potential for violence. If it is discovered he has narrowed his focus
and devised specific plans for harming Ted, it may be necessary to attempt to
broaden his focus, if possible, by talking to him. The same principle is applied when
negotiating with those attempting to commit suicide. If there is one basic human emotion all humans
share it is a desire to feel in control – at least over our own lives. The ultimate control what has is whether to
kill oneself. While perhaps not as
dramatic in this case with Pete, the same role of trying to broaden those areas
of control to the other alternatives not only seem realistic but attainable –
to him, not to you – can make a difference between Pete’s acting out his
threats and not. Additionally, even as not successful in this endeavor to help
Pete see variable alternatives, you know how valuable insight into his process,
as motivations and his reality for better determination of the true potential
of violence. Therefore, is not only
necessary to talk to Pete, but the insights gained from the consultation with
an expert will allow you to be better prepared for what to expect, how to
respond in what should your main areas of focus or concern during the
concern is where to conduct this interview. Over the phone is out, as is allows
Pete total control and he may not even answer the phone. Calling Pete into the workplace is going to
remind him of the anger still has for certain people, so this might be a
disadvantage. Pete would feel compelled to demonstrate he is in control right away,
which can be stressful for all. And, if
you ask him to come in and he says no, where do you do?
to lose home is another option. Many would disagree with this approach, but
Petewill feel in control in this environment.
Naturally, safety becomes a concern because going alone does not
safe. What if Pete should turn
violent? It is necessary to consider
being prepared to use whatever force is required to neutralize his
aggression. That that would be a good
time to consult a security expert or even local law enforcement to discuss the
feasibility of this plan and to solicit one of them to accompany you. Of course, you would still want to get a
sense from the attorney what your liabilities are (for example, if Pete becomes
violent, can he claim your presence was the catalyst?). A behavioralist can offer opinions to this
because a home visit would give some tremendous insight into Pete’s
environment, these perceptions of his power, and then how he operates to
maintain control and how he reacts toward the introduction of another element
you would receive as a threat – is perception will tell him the visit is
obviously meant to take back control.
However, were a case such as this, was an expert consultants would
probably recommend against this option.
Unless you have a lot of experience, it could get too complicated.
about a neutral area? Many experts
prefer this, setting up a meeting at a hotel or even a coffee shop. While the
issue of safety may be more easily dealt with in this environment, it is an
unknown whether it will be comfortable for Pete – probably not. But it is an option, if you feel you simply
do not want Pete back on the premises.
would be an excellent time to turn to your team for discussion and advice. The recommendation would probably be that Pete
should be called into work just as you would any other employee. Remember, you still in employee you have some
control over any don’t have to change any organizational procedures if you
don’t have to. You can make the interview
area safe (hidden cameras, monitoring devices, others standing by, ect.) and
hold it in any room you want (a room away from Pete’s co-workers, a room you
can make a quick exit, a room for a way to his possible targets,ect.). Remember, even though he will proxy with the
concept of wanting to take control, he still has many years of accumulated
behavior at the site where he has felt power, so he will actually be fairly
comfortable. In fact, this is almost an
invitation for him to feel you can come in and clearly demonstrate he is in
control and is going to take back his position of power.
you need to put on a negotiators hat and plan your discussion with Pete. Psychologists, behavioralists, security
persons, EAP staff and many other workplace violence experts may be good to
bring in for discussion on what might be the best way of talking to Pete. However, one of the best resources may be
experienced negotiators from a local police department, providing they have
many years of experience. Talking and
negotiating with the Pete’s of this world are not uncommon events for these
hostage or crisis negotiator would tell you the following: With antisocial
personalities three main rules are consistent:
Since we know Pete’s primary
motivation is for power in control, the word or concept you want to stay away
from is “no.” If you use the “no” in the conversation, you are taking away from
him the very things he is trying to achieve –power and control.
2. Since antisocial personalities are rebellious and antiauthority, the
last thing you should try to use on him is the nice guy routine. He is not going to listen to your
rapport-building chatter and could care less about your concerns for his
welfare. Remember, you found that Pete
was mostly a loner and about the only time he got close to people was when he
was trying to use them. So, like most
other antisocial individuals, Pete is not prone to form attachments with others
and thus is not about to start with you.
The antisocial personality generally as a complete inability to
understand aspects of attachment or empathy.
Since Pete wants to feel power
in control, did not present a powerful in control and presence. This is not the time to show that you are in
change. Thus, never be confronting, although
they may be many good fact you could use to be so. Instead, use the infamous “Colombo”
approach. Demonstrate that you can
listen well, but you need direction and assistance, hence you seem to fall
right into his game of manipulation and conning. You ask him to repeat his thoughts or
demands, “to be sure you’ve got it right.” This ruse also helps you play dumb
regarding what might happen, perhaps saying, “Gee, I don’t know how that’s
going to work. You know how management
can be sometime. But it sounds
reasonable to let me go and check,” clearly lets Pete feel you may be on his
side without demonstrating you want to be his friend.
also gives you the opportunity to stop the discussion for a while if you feel
is appropriate as you can now claim you need to go and consult with
others. You will generally do this when
you sense that Pete needs time to collect his thoughts or develop his game plan
to better “con” you. Sometimes you might
want to do this when he is coming on too strong because this lets him believe
you are a simple person who cannot take a lot and thus you are even more
“manageable” then he first surmised.
This brings up a final rule every
negotiator lives by that is true for any personality you may face. You are not the final word…..even if you
are. In this case, this really works to
your advantage if you can convince Pete that you and he are working on
resolving this problem through his controlling con of you.
Human behavior does not require some
study. But, once understood, the “read”
on an action, a behavior or a statement can take you to an even stronger point
of negotiation or, at least, understanding.
Thus, you may even want to consider asking a consultant to conduct the
interview with Pete. Anyone skilled in
these types of cases would want to start pushing Pete a bit to test his
potential toward violence.
For example, using Pete’s “faults” for
the interview process would mean trying to get him to see that his current
status and way of handling things are not in his best interest nor will they
gain him control. Thus, after a brief
introduction of who you are and your purpose (in this case, to determine the
true nature of the conflict and how to resolve it that) you might begin by asking
Pete simply to tell you what is going on in why he thinks the situation has
reached this stage. Obviously, Pete will
relate a story that makes him look good, and innocent victim and how others in
control (supervisor,ect) are out to get him.
This allows him to spin his web of deceit and rationalization in his
attempt to con you into control.
In so doing, you can point to many of
his details as possible shortcomings for him to achieve the power you know he
wants (“I know how management seems to think they can just make these crazy
demands of us all. But do you think by
not doing that task it will really cause them to back off?”). This is a way of suggesting he may not really
be achieving the power he is looking for without challenging his obvious
perception of being in control by simply not doing what he has told.
On the other hand, you must also be
careful not to try to trick such a person.
Pete and those like him have years and years of experience at this game
and they can spot someone trying to con them a mile away. At the same time, realize that if he senses
you are not responsive to his con, he may tire of you in begin raising the
stakes. These personalities generally
need a fair amount of stimulation. Hence,
if you do not keep him involved in this process, may decide to make up a whole
new scenario to make things more interesting. (For example, “well, if Ted
hadn’t propositioned me last year, this whole thing would never have happened. Naturally, I couldn’t tell anyone about this
earlier because he’s my boss, but I’m just not in two guys.”)
It is also important to remember the Pete’s
of this world cannot focus on long-term concepts of gratification, such as
suggesting that his present behavior is unlikely to get him a raise next
year. They are into satisfying the
impulses of the here and now. They did
not grow up in an environment where they can learn how to model their “parent
self” (what psychologists refer to as the superego). Hence, they are dealing with the instant
gratification demands of their little kid (the id). And what we know of the little kid is that it
basically really understands only two things very clearly –pain and
pleasure. Pete is going to be able to
focus only on short term concept; consequences are too subjective, too far
away. The best results are achieved by
getting Pete to find an immediate resolution with an obvious concrete negative
consequence if the resolution is not achieved (“if you resigned today, you
would take away their ability to fire you.”).
are also not going to intimidate or cause Pete to feel anxious about his
position or his actions. Antisocial
personalities have no fear of hurting others, disappointing someone or feeling
of guilt, shame or embarrassment for what they have done to others. And, since anxiety requires a capacity for
empathy, the antisocial generally cannot feel anxious. Thus treats that he could be fired would have
little defect on Pete. About the only
anxiety Pete might ever feel is the fear of getting caught for committing some
illegal act, but even this is transitory.
It is also interesting to note that
these personalities have no real life goals; they live for immediate
gratification, so how can they have any goals?
Thus, appealing to their future is not only a waste of time but may
steer you into a whole line of useless discourse. If Pete decided to run with this, he would
lie and rationalize something socially acceptable he believed you wanted to
hear. If you buy into this, he might try to rationalize and con you into seeing
how, since he is now the persecuted victim in this case, he should be allowed
certain rewards and fewer punishments for his actions.
What are antisocials looking for, beyond
the obvious need to feel they have the power or are in control? They need to feel strong in
self-sufficient. Since others are
obviously out for their own power and control, then this additional need the
antisocial has means he must do unto others before they do unto him. People who do not believe in this principle
are weak and deserve what they get. Thus
in talking with Pete, allowing him to feel he is directing his opportunities in
the process becomes an important element.