Violence-prevention tactics fuel growth of consulting firm |

Violence-prevention tactics fuel growth of consulting firm

Pat Patera

Terrorist attacks. School shootings. Threats against high-profile people and wealthy business moguls.

The rising trend of violence prompted a Secret Service veteran to launch a company based in Spanish Springs to teach violence-prevention tactics.

“There are so many violent incidents,” says Dr. Marisa Randazzo, president of Threat Assessment Resources International LLC. The company provides threat assessment training, consultation, and research to schools, corporations, law enforcement, security companies and executive protection details.

“Each new client case is like a new problem,” says Randazzo. But there’s a common element when mass attacks occur: “The person is at a point of frustration or despair, and feels they have nowhere to turn.”

In recent years, as headlines report mass school shootings, school districts and universities now make up a large part of her business.

“More than 240 school-associated violent deaths have occurred at educational institutions since the attack at Columbine,” she says, “but research has shown that some school shootings can be prevented.”

The company sells an online course, Understanding School Shootings, designed for administrators, faculty, support staff, guidance counselors, coaches, security professionals and concerned parents.

Before founding Threat Assessment, Randazzo worked 10 years with the U.S. Secret Service as the agency’s chief research psychologist. Then, as a senior expert with Business Intelligence Advisors Inc., she provided wealthy families, corporations, and schools with investigative consultation on individual threat cases.

Since founding Threat Assessment Resources more than a year ago, Randazzo says her client base has broadened to include schools, corporations, law enforcement agencies and private individuals.

She trains on threat assessment, bomb-threat assessment, and the detection of deception. She also provides training on abduction prevention and escape tactics for the children of high-net-worth families, their caregivers and guards.

Responding to actual threats is another piece of the business.

The five threat cases Randazzo investigated last year included a business, a school and three private individuals.

Her fees range from $250 per hour for individual consultation to $3,500 for a half-day and $5,000 for a full day of on-site training. Some jobs last several days and some contracts call for additional work, such as review of existing training programs. All require extensive background research.

When hired by school districts that have obtained federal grants for violence prevention training, Randazzo speaks to audiences of 500 or more.

Most districts make the training broadly available to security, teachers and even support staff such as janitors and cafeteria workers. Support staff is key to spotting troubled students, she says, because they’re often treated as invisible; hence teens may speak freely in their presence. Or, students may confide in them. The important thing, she adds, is “Having as many eyes and ears as possible.”

Contracts routinely came from the K-12 schools, but since the Virginia Tech shooting, she’s called to train at schools of higher education.

Despite traveling widely to train on-site, since starting her own company, Randazzo says that since launching her own company, she enjoys a better balance between work and family life. Even so, she adds, it’s emotionally draining to talk about the subject day after day.

And she wakes her in the night, “To check, double-check and triple-check the information I gave a client, because lives are at stake.”

Randazzo maintains an unusual vision for the future of Threat Assessment Resources.

“If I’m successful, I’ll put myself out of business because people understand how to prevent violence so well.”


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