Targeting school violence

By Tom Kocal for This Is Laramie

LARAMIE — For over 20 years, the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) has conducted research on the thinking and behaviors of those who commit acts of targeted violence in an effort to prevent future tragedies from occurring.

A presentation addressing NTAC’s research findings and strategies for preventing these types of attacks at schools will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the University of Wyoming Conference Center, 2221 Grand Ave. in Laramie (adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn).

The presenter will be Dr. Aaron Cotkin, a Social Science Research Specialist with NTAC, who conducts research and provides training and consultation on threat assessment and the prevention of targeted violence.

Dr. Aaron Cotkin. Photo used with permission of NTAC.

Cotkin is affiliated with the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, where he participates in the Center’s mission to conduct research and provide training, consultations, and information-sharing on threat assessments and targeted violence.

The presentation will highlight relevant case examples and includes findings and recommendations from NTAC’s latest research publications on targeted school attacks and averted school attack plots in the United States. It will also focus on how communities can use an 8-step multidisciplinary approach to identify, assess, and intervene with students exhibiting concerning or threatening behaviors. This model is intended to proactively identify students in need of additional intervention or support.

Key findings from this research indicate that establishing multidisciplinary threat assessment teams and encouraging school communities to report concerning behaviors are critical steps in the prevention of targeted violence. The reports examined school attacker and plotter behaviors and motivations, and are intended to inform the violence prevention efforts of our public safety partners.

The program, sponsored by the Laramie Police Department Foundation, is intended for educators, law enforcement, other public safety professionals, mental health professionals, social workers, counselors, health care professionals, etc.

The Secret Service will provide each attendee a printed copy of NTAC’s latest publication on averted school attack plots, which will be available upon their arrival in the lobby of the University of Wyoming Conference Center. All publications are also available digitally on the Secret Service website, at

The event is planned to begin at 9 a.m. for press availability only. At 9:30 a.m., the press will be excused and general admission will begin. The presentation will begin at 10 a.m.

Please RSVP to Bruce Ward at and state if you are an individual or group, and if a group, state how many in the group. In the RSVP subject line, please add “NTAC Presentation.” For those out of town visitors needing accommodations, a block of rooms has been reserved by the Laramie Police Department Foundation at the Hilton Garden Inn. Reservations may be made at, by using a booking link that will be sent to you. Please note in your RSVP if you require a room. The deadline to book into the group block is Monday, September 27th 2021 and availability is limited.

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