Exi-Venn was founded by two women intent on changing the world they are leaving to their children. As a result of events like Columbine, 9/11 and Sandy Hook; Exi-Venn set out to reframe the discussion regarding targeted mass violence to expand the stakeholders and improve communication within the traditional experts of threat assessment and management. Leveraging data, technology, algorithms and analytics; Exi-Venn uses a dynamic, state of the art, cloud-based method to enhance outcomes and puts an end to targeted violence tragedies.
History of Threat Assessment
Beginning in the 1980s, there were a series of violent events that were well-publicized at the national level, including several acts of workplace violence at Post Offices and other private office buildings, the stalking and murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, acts of intimate partner violence such as Nicole Brown Simpson, and school shootings like Stockton, California in 1989, Springfield, Oregon in 1998, and Littleton, Colorado in 1999 . These events prompted a crucial shift in the thinking of law enforcement, away from gathering information and capturing offenders after a crime has occurred, and toward attempting to prevent certain types of violent attacks from ever happening (Borum, Fein, Vossekuil & Berglund, 1999). After the events that took place in the United States on 9/11/2001, the FBI was given as a primary mission the task of preventing future terror attacks.
Simultaneously, the Secret Service focused on investigating four subjects who had made attempts to assassinate the President and/or members of Congress in an attempt to produce a “profile” of an assassin. In two of these cases, the subjects nearly succeeded–actually taking weapons to places they thought their target might be, with the intention of shooting that target. However, none of the cases fit the prevailing picture of an “assassin.” Namely, none of the subjects had made actual threats to kill the President or other targets. Two of the subjects appeared to be mentally ill, while two did not. None of the subjects had any known prior history of violence. In fact, the Secret Service did not learn about any of the subjects until after they had each made efforts to approach the intended target with a weapon (Borum, Fein, Vossekuil & Berglund, 1999). This investigation led the Secret Service to identify the pre-attack behaviors of all subjects in the United States from 1950 on who were known to have either attacked or approached a prominent public target with a weapon, with the intention to attack that target. This report widely influenced the field of Threat Assessment and is known as The Secret Service Exceptional Case Study Project (Borum, Fein, Vossekuil & Berglund, 1999).
The Exceptional Case Study Project has been a catalyst for research in the field of Threat Assessment and Management and is credited with coining the term “targeted violence,” reframing the approach and beginning the process of intervention, mitigation, and assessment of threat in advance of violence. Further, the Project made three very important conclusions: 1) assassinations are the end result of an understandable and discernible process of thinking and behaving; 2) there is no accurate descriptive, demographic, or psychological “profile” of an assassin or school shooter; and 3) people who often pose threats do not actually make verbal threats before attempting to carry out acts of targeted violence.
The Problem / Current Situation
Targeted violence is defined as an occurrence of violence where a known or knowable attacker selects a particular target prior to the violent attack (Fein, Vossekuil & Holden,1995). Targeted violence includes acts of stalking, workplace violence, school shootings, corporate sabotage, intimate partner violence, terrorism, and “active shooter” incidents. Of note, targeted violence does not always result in death, and can be committed with any type of weapon, to include firearms, knives, explosives, chemicals, and vehicles. Acts of targeted violence that include the use of firearms have traditionally received the most attention from the media because they are increasing in frequency and severity in the United States, 214% in the last five years (Cohen, Azrael & Miller, 2014). While still considered low-frequency events in comparison to all types of violence, the impact of shootings at theaters, schools, churches, malls, sporting events, airports, universities, and places of employment is prolific, resonates within the American collective psyche, and has a profound influence on how people exist in our society.
The current approach to Threat Assessment is primarily focused on criminality and profiling of individuals based on what law enforcement is able to know about someone before a crime is committed. This approach has had success when dealing with traditional criminals who have RAP sheets and court convictions to rely upon in predicting future behavior, however it has been ineffective when faced with individual actors who fall outside of established profiles and have little or no prior interaction with law enforcement but are actively suicidal or have some other form of diagnosable and treatable mental impairment. Given that individual actors, such as the Columbine or Sandy Hook shooters, had escalated along the pathway to violence (Calhoun & Weston, 2003) without law enforcement’s knowledge, it was only discovered after the events that clear signs existed, the concept of leakage, (Meloy & O’Toole, 2011) that could have provided intervention points in advance of the tragedies had they been known to threat assessment professionals. These actors were never brought into appropriate treatment.
Additionally, the current privacy and criminal laws significantly impact what and how law enforcement can develop information that will allow for meaningful intervention in advance of horrific bad acts. Many threat assessment professionals are frustrated with the limitations of current models and are looking for innovative approaches to preventing targeted violence.
Exi-Venn develops app-enabled intervention models that bring cloud-based information, clinical assessment, and laws into the hands of those tasked with keeping our society safe. Exi-Venn’s model deconstructs the silos that traditionally exist between the legal, law enforcement and clinical information that prohibit earlier detection and meaningful intervention. Cloud computing and data-driven decision-making are revolutionizing every sector and safety is no different.
Exi-Venn remodels the efforts to prevent targeted mass violence by (1) reframing the discussion to include non-traditional stakeholders and (2) leveraging technological advancements commonly used in other sectors to enhance outcomes and improve options.
We know that operating in silos is detrimental to communication flow and knowledge-sharing. Exi-Venn accelerates information gathering so that data is known and assessed for dangerousness. Exi-Venn makes sure that experts in dangerousness assessments have the detail and specificity to minimize mistakes and maximize intervention capabilities. Our capabilities can be utilized by law enforcement in the field, corporations as a standard practice or as an intervention tool in academic environments to analyze and mitigate threats. The model is nimble, dynamic, cost-effective, customizable and easy to use. The Evi-Venn model detects deception and mental disturbance, develops data, directs when intervention is indicated and ultimately, dials back danger. It can even determine laws according to jurisdiction; telling you when you’ve met the threshold for probable cause or the need for treatment.
Exi-Venn engages experts from all disciplines in collaboration taking harm prevention to the next level.