News Department

Morris County Sheriff’s Office holds behavior threat assessment and management training education focused on the interdiction of school violence

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday with the assistance of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management and in association with The Morris County Chiefs of Police, provided Behavior Threat Assessment (BTAM) Training to academic professionals and law enforcement personnel.

This training was sponsored by the Jersey City/Newark Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

Sheriff James M. Gannon said, “This education is extremely timely for this topic to which we are seeing an uptick in acts of violence. No community is immune from these acts. The training and implementation of the training is multi-disciplined. Academia, law enforcement, and mental health professionals all working in partnership to resolve the issues. Knowing these issues exist and addressing them before an incident occurs is the definition of being proactive. We have published a free application called the RSVP-3 application which should be, MUST BE, available to all students so they can feel comfortable in reporting any, and all concerning behavior they observe. Once we know, then we can act in the best interests of the person in need.”

Cynthia Marble, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for Training Operations at SIGMA, was the trainer and presenter of today’s session. Ms. Marble is a nationally recognized leader with over 25 years of experience in the fields of threat assessment and threat management, protective intelligence investigations, national security, executive protection, and global security operations. Before joining SIGMA, Ms. Marble served for over 26 years with the U.S. Secret Service, most recently as the Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Secret Service Houston Field Office.

Chief Ross Johnson, chief of police for Mendham Township and President of the Morris County Chiefs of Police stressed the importance of this top notch training and said, “It is through communication and collaboration that problems of this nature are solved. Police must be in constant communication with their respective Board of Education personnel.”

This training is mandated by the State of New Jersey. On August 1, 2022, Governor Phil Murphy signed into legislation, N.J.S.A. 18A:17-43.4, requiring the establishment of threat assessment teams in public, charter, and renaissance school projects by the 2023 – 2024 school year. The purpose of a threat assessment team is to provide schoolteachers, administrators, and other staff with assistance in identifying students with behaviors of concern, assessing those students’ risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and delivering intervention strategies to manage the risk of harm for students who pose a potential safety risk. Threat assessment teams’ purpose is also to prevent targeted violence in the school and to ensure a safe and secure school environment that enhances the learning experience for all members of the school community. Accordingly, the board of education of each school district and the board of trustees of each charter school or renaissance school project must develop and adopt a policy for the establishment of a multi-disciplinary threat assessment team at each school.

Threat assessment teams must be multidisciplinary in membership and, to the extent possible, include the following individuals:

  • A school psychologist, school counselor, school social worker, or other school employee with expertise in student counseling;
  • A teaching staff member;
  • A school principal or other senior school administrator;
  • A safe schools resource officer or school employee who serves as a school liaison to law enforcement; and
  • The school safety specialist designated pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:17-43.3

Participants of this training session gained an understanding of guiding principles regarding threat assessment and management, including how to identify and investigate threats and other concerning behavior. Participants were provided step-by-step procedures related to gathering information to assess threats; and, where necessary, learned how to develop and implement plans to reduce risk and help maintain school safety, from national experts with experience investigating school threats and shootings. Grounded in research, threat assessment is recognized as the current best practice for preventing targeted school-based violence. This one-day training course is intended for administrators, teaching staff, school safety specialists, school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers, mental health professionals, school resource officers, local law enforcement, and other school personnel. School Safety Specialists who attend this training session receive appropriate hours toward certification renewal.

RSVP-3 – Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation, Protection

RSVP-3 is a multi-disciplinary approach to identifying, evaluating and responding to threats to schools, houses of worship and other institutions. RSVP-3 involves the participation of Morris County schools, superintendents, mental health experts, police and emergency services personnel, with the U.S. Secret Service and Office of Homeland Security among the agencies that provided their expertise.

RSVP-3, which stands for Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation, Protection, was founded by Sheriff James Gannon in collaboration with the Morris County Chiefs of Police Association immediately after the mass shooting on February 14, 2018, that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

In November 2018, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office hired the best of the best to create a program and guide and to develop the accompanying training for law enforcement, educators and mental health professionals. The goal is to identify behavioral indicators of potential school violence and to act before the event to intervene; to be “left of bang” on the timeline.

Sheriff Gannon brought in the former Chief Research Psychologist from the United States Secret Service (who lead the creation of the Safe School Initiative following the mass casualty incident at Columbine High School), Dr. Marisa Reddy Randazzo, Ph.D. as well as the former President of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Dr. Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP, LPC. Their organization, Sigma Threat Management Associates, LLC, created a one hundred page guide entitled; Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management: A Guide for Schools, Colleges, Universities and Law Enforcement Agencies. Sigma also developed a curriculum to instruct police, school and mental health professionals in threat assessment, followed by an additional “Train-the-Trainer” program.

Additionally, on October 10, 2019 at 10am the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff James Gannon released the “RSVP-3 Morris County, NJ” mobile application. RSVP-3 Morris County provides the most advanced and up-to-date reporting platform through the use of modern technology, equipment, and resources. This application enables law enforcement, educational and mental health partners, students, parents, and community members to connect, discover and anonymously report any act or instance that negatively affects, threatens, or harasses themselves, another individual, a friend, a whole family or family member, a school, or a community. The reported information will be received real time by trained professionals where it will be forwarded to the appropriate investigative team.

This program’s purpose is to counteract violence, intercept any school threat, report repeated harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying, and offer a connection and line of support to students, educators, parents and community members. It is important to note that the reporter shall have the option to remain anonymous during all communications. The application can be downloaded through the Google Play Store and/or the Apple Store by typing in “RSVP-3 Morris County, NJ”.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office has created RSVP-3 in to take a proactive stance on the issue of violence in schools. According to Sigma Threat Management Associates acts of targeted violence are rarely impulsive and secret. In fact, in 75% of cases, other people have known about planned acts of school violence before they occurred. It has been said that actual school shooters have reported that they wished friends or bystanders had told someone of their violent plans and stopped them before they carried them out. It is important to note that there is no accurate “profile” of someone who has the potential to be violent, however, according to Sigma, most violent offenders concerned the people around them prior to the act. Research proves that many school violence offenders had suicidal tendencies and were often the targets of harassment, bullying, and physical violence prior to turning to violence. In today’s world it is everyone’s responsibility to recognize, respond, and report anyone or anything that threatens their safety or the safety of others. Once the application is live, all reports are welcomed with a guarantee that every report will be read and forwarded to the appropriate investigating

RSVP-3 Download Instructions:

  • Go to the Google Play Store or Apple Store on your mobile device.
  • Search for “RSVP-3 Morris County, NJ”.
  • Click “Install”.
  • Open the Application.
  • Enter a unique four (4) digit passcode that you will remember. This is your log-in.
  • Select your location: Select the Affected Town, Select the Affected School District

To Report:

  • Select the action/tip type you would like to report, there is a list.
  • Fill out of tip submission form with all of the information you have.
  • Feel free to include attachments.
  • Click submit.

For more information regarding the RSVP3 application please contact the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach and Planning Section (COPS) at 973-285-6681.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button