Threat Assessment in the Mid-Willamette Valley

In 1998, The Marion County Threat Assessment Team was formed through the collaboration of the Sheriff's Office, the Oregon State Courts and Salem Keizer School District. The team addressed threats against public figures, threats in the workplace and schools, domestic violence and stalking. Within the United States, it was the first collaboration of its kind and the following year, both Salem and Keizer police departments joined the team.

In 2000, using this model as an example, the Salem-Keizer School District, in collaboration with the above noted Law Enforcement agencies, Juvenile Justice Services, Children's Mental Health, Oregon Youth Authority, the Oregon State court system and several youth-serving community agencies, developed an assessment system to address potential threats of youth violence within the school setting and the community.

The development process involved a thorough survey of current research and best practices, as well as the consultation of local practitioners who assess or encounter potentially violent situations involving youth on a regular basis.

Finally the system was refined and completed through committee work with school administrators, counselors, police officers, social workers, community mental health specialists, probation officers, school psychologists and risk management personnel.

Within the following year, the Willamette Education Service District implemented the system throughout the rural school districts in both Marion and Polk Counties and eventually in Yamhill County.

The system in place today includes a site-assessment screening completed by a trained multi-disciplinary team (called a Level 1) and, if needed, a more comprehensive and in-depth assessment and consultation completed by a multi-agency team (called a Level 2).

The system is operated from a collaboration of all of the public agencies that serve youth (including law enforcement). Members of this collaboration are trained to the highest standards available and are available to schools for assessment, consultation and resource development.

The Threat Assessment System objectives are:

  1. Assess threats of potentially harmful or lethal behavior and determine the level of concern and action required.
  2. Organize resources and strategies to manage situations involving students that pose threats to other students and/or staff.
  3. Maintain a sense of psychological safety among our students, teachers and parents.