or others. If the team determines that the person(s) pose a threat, a strategy is developed and implemented to manage the threat. In many cases this process will also identify students who may not necessarily be likely to carry out a threat but do need other social supports to address depression, drug abuse or suicidality. In many instances, students who were planning a shooting and/ or bombing have been properly detected and the risk managed months, weeks and in some cases hours before the attack was to be carried out. Timing can be critical, so find out what types of communications and behaviors you should report and how you should report them. It is also a good idea to learn about your district’s threat assessment process. Typically, you should report any concerns to your supervisor who will route information to the appropriate channels. While you may not be able to learn the out- come of the process you should try to verify that the proper report has been filed. You may also need to make school administrators aware of pertinent information or situations as appropriate. And of course, you are a mandatory reporter. Incidents of a sexual nature require you to file a report with your state department of family or children’s services or law enforcement in most states.

PATTERN MATCHING AND RECOGNITION Pattern matching and recognition draws on the amazing capa- bilities of the human brain to detect even subtle behaviors that are incongruous to the place, setting and time. A Bibb County Public School Police officer in Macon, Georgia prevented a school bus shooting by three gang members because he noticed the fact that one group of students did not board their bus. Officer Kenneth Bronson was very far from the bus when he noticed this behavior. Te students told the officer that they feared that the men were afraid to enter the campus with guns due to the police presence and were waiting to shoot at a student who was a member of a rival gang as the bus left campus. As he approached the three men, he used another behavioral approach known as visual weapons screening to spot the outline of a small .25 caliber handgun in one of the sus- pect’s front pockets and he was able to take them into custody.

VISUAL WEAPONS SCREENING Based on an array of observations, the premise of visual screen- ing is that there are subtle—and sometimes more obvious—cues that someone is carrying a weapon illegally. Tese techniques were developed into training video format by the authors in the 1990s and have since trained hundreds of thousands of educators, law enforcement officers and school bus drivers on how to spot and react to these indicators. Tis approach has also averted a number of planned school shootings.

FOCUSING ON QUALITY OF CUSTOMER SERVICE While there is a lot of focus on school violence, it is essentially a subset of workplace violence. As with any other business, school trans- portation employees should focus on providing a positive experience for their riders, parents and co-workers. Just like a retail store, schools can reduce the risk of violence by handling upset customers properly. While this can sometimes be difficult, we must remember that our “customer” is the parent but also—and primarily—the student.

Case studies of suicide bombing attacks against buses in Israel provide valuable lessons to student transporters in the U.S. Learn more at

Quality of customer service and operations also increases the quality of response by building positive relationships with their riders and parents at every interaction. Tis can reduce the chances that we may be attacked by a student or parent but can also aid in response when students trust and respect the bus driver. Having a good rapport with students can also increase our situational aware- ness since they may be more likely to report dangerous situations.

PROTECTIVE INTELLIGENCE Tis important behavioral training approach can be effective for bad actors who are not part of the school community. Tough it can involve a number of different aspects, protective intelligence includes training people how to spot behaviors and communica- tions that can indicate that a potential target is being surveilled prior to an attack. As with the other behavioral approaches de- scribed earlier, protective intelligence is not reliant upon detecting a particular type of weapon but instead, detecting the behaviors of people who may be planning an attack. In the case of a school bus, this can involve individuals who surveil a bus stop, a bus route or who follow a bus. Contrary to what is depicted in movies, this surveillance does not typically involve taking photos or sketches but is more heavily based on personal observation by the attacker.


While no single measure can eliminate the threat of mass casualty violence, the fact that the majority of planned attacks in the United States have been successfully averted proves that there are excellent opportunities and distinct probabilities. A rational and multi-layered approach to school bus safety through risk assessment and appropri- ate protective measures as well as quality of operations can greatly enhance safety more than any one type of measure. 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS Well-known for their much copied but never duplicated weapons concealment and detection presentations, such as at the STN EXPO, Michael (at top left) and Chris Dorn have authored and co-authored nearly 30 books on school safety and are currently co-authoring a 600-page university textbook “Extreme Violence – Protecting People From and Understanding Active Assailant, Hate Crimes and Terrorist Attacks.” Between them, the Dorns have worked in more than a dozen countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe. Africa, Asia, the subcontinent and the Middle East.

Te Dorn’s also helped co-author the IS360 training program for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the 2013 White House School Safety Initiative. Next summer, the Dorns will both present at the STN EXPO. Learn more about them and their organization as well as provide feedback at 19

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