Managing Delusional Employees: Preventing Workplace Violence Attacks From Employees With Paranoid Delusional Beliefs

Dr Russell Palarea1, SSA Kendall Donahue1
1Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department Of State, Washington, USA

Abstract TBA


Dr. Russell Palarea serves as the contract Consulting Operational Psychologist for the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DS).  He was brought to DS in 2012 to spearhead the creation of the State Department’s Threat Management Program, and currently consults on investigations of threats and targeted violence against State Department leadership and personnel, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, domestic facilities, foreign diplomatic facilities in the U.S., and visiting foreign dignitaries.  He is assigned to the Office of Protective Intelligence Investigations, and also provides consultation to the DS Insider Threat Program.  Additionally, he is an instructor for the DS Training Academy and a presenter for the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).  From 2001 to 2011, Dr. Palarea served as a Staff Operational Psychologist with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), where he consulted on threat assessment, violent crime, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism investigations.  From 2011 to 2012, he served as a contract Operational Psychologist with the U.S. Department of Defense.  He has served as an instructor for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), CIA University, and DoD Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA), and has trained a multitude of  local, state, federal, and international law enforcement and security services.  Dr. Palarea holds a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, emphasis in Forensics, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He currently serves as the President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP) and is a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management.

A Cumulative Behavioural Scale for Identifying Non-Sadistic Ritualistic Rape

Dr Michael Davis1
1Michael Davis Forensic Psychology Pty Ltd

Sexual offenders and the crimes they commit are markedly heterogeneous. Decades of scholarly literature have posited a number of motivations for rape, including power, anger, misogynistic vindictiveness, and sexualisation. Identifying the motivational drive behind sexual offending behaviour can be vitally important for threat assessors, behavioural investigative advisers, and treating clinicians. One particularly important construct is to differentiate between ritualistic offences that are driven by fantasy and those that are not. However, this is often difficult to determine from a clinical interview as it relies on the assumptions that the individual knows why they committed an offence and that their narrative is truthful. Accordingly, it is arguably of great importance for threat assessment professionals to concentrate on actual offence behaviours when formulating hypotheses. This paper will focus upon the identification of ritualistic rape from an analysis of offence behaviour. Sadistic and non-sadistic variants of ritualistic rape will be discussed, drawing attention to the similarities and marked differences between them. Historical conceptualisations of the non-sadistic variant, including biastophilia, raptophilia, and paraphilic coercive disorder will be reviewed. It will be argued that these are of limited applied utility without a valid behavioural anchor. Distinguishing features and salient behaviours of non-sadistic ritualistic rapes will be discussed and a cumulative behavioural rating scale for identifying such offences will be proposed: “The Non-Sadistic Ritualistic Rape Scale.” A sub-scale for identifying poorly understood muted forms of sadism will also be proposed. Pragmatic recommendations for threat assessment professionals and behavioural investigative advisers will be outlined as well as proposals for future research regarding this important construct.


Dr Michael Davis is a Forensic Clinical Psychologist in full-time private practice with adjunct positions at Swinburne, Monash, and Melbourne Universities. He has presented to mental health and law enforcement audiences worldwide on various aspects of sexual and violent crime. He has conducted hundreds of assessments for the courts and in consultation for area mental health services, government departments, and private lawyers. Dr Davis is a member of the Australian Forensic Reference Group (Victoria Police). He has provided behavioural investigative advice to police in several countries across three continents and is the only mental health professional in Australia to be elected to membership of the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship (ICIAF). Dr Davis serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling.

Understanding ‘moral emotions’ with greater granularity may assist in potential risk and protective factor identification and, the tactical understanding of violent extremists.

Mr David Whittingham1
1Evexia, Brisbane, Australia

Understanding emotions and ‘moral emotions’ with greater granularity may assist in potential risk and protective factor identification and, the tactical understanding of violent extremists.

The combination of anger, contempt and disgust emotions (ANCODI) has been found to a potential precursor to violent events in verbal and non-verbal expressions of emotion (Matsumoto, Frank and Hwang, 2015). A phased emotional process has been offered explaining the movement from outrage based on anger, to moral superiority based on contempt and, then elimination based on disgust (Matsumoto et, al 2012). Further, such emotions have also been considered in both the ‘mindset’ of extremist violence and the process of ideological development, as well as a critical aspect of assessing the risk and protective factors for extremist violence (Borum, 2003 and 2015).

Guilt or shame proneness has been found to act as a protective or risk factor for psychological problems (i.e. substance abuse) and criminal recidivism respectively (Stuewig, Tangney, Heigel, Harty, McCloskey 2010).  Certain types of situations have been known to elicit guilt and shame and shame is known as a more painful, disruptive, maladaptive emotion, associated with externalising blame, anger, hostility and notably experimentally, with aggressive behaviour for those high in narcissism (Tangney, Stuewig & Mashek, 2007; Thomas, Bushman, Stegge & Olthof, 2008).  Guilt prone people however have been found to be disinclined to aggression, not externalise blame and, in prospective research, guilt was found to protective of delinquent behaviour (Stuewig & McCloskey, 2005).

In summary, greater awareness of ‘moral emotions’ across anger, contempt, disgust, shame and guilt and their function in the ‘mindset’ of violent extremism, risk assessment and formulation, may offer tactical and early intervention opportunities (i.e. reducing shame/increasing guilt) attuned to an ‘actors’ emotional profile and it’s granularity (Borum, 2003, 2015 and Feldman Barret, 2017).


David Whittingham is a Director and co-founder of Evexia, a workplace psychology company.

David has worked as a Forensic Psychologist in Australia in the public and private sector, specialising in people risk, threat assessment and safety systems. He has also worked as a Chartered Forensic Psychologist in the United Kingdom in community and secure settings providing tertiary consultation liasion risk assessment and intervention services.

David is an experienced national and international presenter on organisational health and leadership, bullying and harassment, complex workplace conduct and reasonable management actions and, employment and forensic vulnerabilities with autism spectrum profiles. He has presented at several conferences on these topics including  the Australian Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law Congresses, Australia’s No 2 Bullying Conference, the Asia Pacific Autism Conference and, the International Conference on Care for Offenders.

David has developed and delivered training programs specific to complex stakeholder engagement for high risk roles in the resources sector, risk and wellbeing leadership in the health sector, reasonable management action processes in the legal and insurance sector and, tactical communication and negotiations in the policing and security sector.

A Tale From Down Under: Targeted Violence Mitigated with International Support

Dr Karie Gibson1, Crime Analyst Jennifer Tillman1, Detective Blake Horder2
1FBI-BAU, Quantico, USA, 2South Australia Police, Adelaide, Australia

In early November 2017 information received by South Australia Police indicated two males (18 yo and 16 yo) were planning to carry out a ‘Columbine style’ attack and subsequent suicide at the Renmark High School (HS) within a few weeks. Both were students at the school in a Flexible Learning Program. At the time of the alleged threat, Renmark HS had 524 students. Renmark is a small agricultural Riverland community of about 10,000 people situated roughly 3 hours north east of South Australia’s capital – Adelaide. Police were made aware of the threats after a student became concerned and informed their parents; subsequently, both males were taken into custody on serious charges. Searches conducted by police revealed journals and diaries in which one had written about committing a mass shooting ‘to be bigger than Columbine, Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon and the Norway Massacre combined’. Social media messages between the suspects were located on mobile phones detailing conversations about committing a school shooting. Additional conversations were found where one suspect was attempting to source firearms for the purpose of committing the shooting. In September 2018, South Australia Police requested FBI-BAU assistance in the prosecution of these two males by reviewing case materials and conducting an investigative analysis. Specifically, The FBI-BAU reviewed the evidence and demonstrated several key points from Making Prevention a Reality: Identifying, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks. Both suspects pled guilty and an act of targeted violence was prevented. This presentation will focus on how the suspects were on the pathway to commit an act of targeted violence, where they considered, planned, and prepared to resolve their grievances through violence. This was not a fantasy but rather a high concern case requiring containment and ongoing threat management.


Dr. Karie Gibson has been a Special Agent for the FBI for thirteen years and currently serves as a Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit-1 (BAU-1), Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC) where she is responsible for providing behaviorally based operational support and training to federal, state, local, tribal, and international law enforcement agencies.  In providing operational support for both BTAC and counterterrorism cases, Dr. Gibson completes threat assessments, threat management strategies, statement analysis, interview and interrogation strategies, prosecutorial strategies, and unknown offender profiles. Prior to becoming an agent with the FBI, Dr. Gibson was and continues to be a licensed clinical psychologist.

Detective Horder has served in the South Australia Police for 17 years.  He currently a specialist homicide Detective at the Major Crime Investigation Branch, where he has been stationed since 2013.  In his current role, Detective Horder oversees and provides statewide specialist consultation to other Criminal Investigation Branches on matters such as homicide, police involved death in custody, police shootings, coronial matters and solicit/conspiracy to murder investigations.  His current role also includes leading taskforces for complex homicide investigations, cold case homicide and significant public interest investigations.

As a Crime Analyst assigned to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit-1 (BAU-1), Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, CA Tillman works closely with Supervisory Special Agents on person of concern cases involving threat assessment and threat management strategies. She provides detailed analytical packages consisting of association charts, maps, matrices, timelines and other database search results to investigators and prosecutors alike.  Due to the impressive caliber of these products, CA Tillman has testified during grand jury proceedings, preliminary hearings and trials.

Staying vigilant: Balancing your operating framework – Predicting the threat, assessing and managing unreasonable complainants at first contact

Ms Kim Herbert1,2, Mrs Lisa Brand1,2
1Cyntropy Pty Ltd, Sydney/Brisbane, Australia, 2nandin (Deep Tech Incubator), Lucas Heights, Australia

Imagine that overnight, your workforce went from 600 to 2,500 and the number of workplaces went from three to 110. How would your response systems cope?

Whilst working at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, this was our co-presenters reality. The incidence of both external and internal workplace violence increased. The system for protecting workers was inherently unable to respond to the increased complexity, dispersed workforce and risk profile.

Led by the former National WHS Programme Director and National Compliance Manager, we will explore an innovative approach to re-balancing operational frameworks.

Points of Difference
– Eliminating and minimising risks by design. To ensure effective management of risks to workers and organisational performance, an operational framework must be adaptable, scalable and responsive to changes in the operating environment. What happens with we apply academic theory and take a problem-centric approach to re-designing response systems?
– Change your thinking; when Compliance Officers run HR. Human Resources (HR) is rarely seen as providing compliance and enforcement services. It’s perceived as generic, soft and fuzzy. What happens when risk-control practitioners take over a “people-management” function?
– Intervening sooner, better, for greater outcomes. By building risk-controls into our response systems, how far can we move on the intervention spectrum (predict, rather than react)?

– The principles of Moore’s Strategic Triangle were used to assess, rebalance and monitor the framework.
– An agile approach and user-centred design aligned service delivery (balancing compassion and compliance).
– A harms-minimisation approach (Sparrow’s Theory of Operations) introduced best-practice for compliance and assurance work.

Key results (under 12 months):
– $1m saved annually
– 30% reduction in cases
– 79% reduction in the average case duration (504 to 107 days)
– 500 employee interventions
– 20% reduction in operational compliance staff
– 2yrs person-time saved.


Founded in 2017 by Lisa Brand and Kim Herbert, Cyntropy is a 100 per cent female owned start-up and member of the award winning nandin Deep Tech Incubator.

Lisa Brand

Lisa is a transformation management specialist with over 15 years’ experience in strategic design and management of workforce capability, health, business compliance and risk. Lisa is a certified Organisational Coach, qualified trainer.

With a background in psychology, she has diverse risk-control and behavioural analysis experience in private, State and Federal government sectors, including the Australian resources sector.

Lisa is meticulous, agile and pragmatic when it comes to enabling users to self-adopt required change. She has delivered operational transformation in environments ranging from coal mining sites to senior executive boardrooms.

She specialises in resolving complex organisational factors, increasing individual and team performance and ensuring capability uplift. As the G20 Australia National Safety Manager, she designed and implemented the G20 safety management system in under 12 weeks, enabling the management of risks to a workforce of over 7,000.

Lisa is currently studying law and raising two teenage daughters – ask her which is easier!

Kim Herbert

An experienced Project Director, Kim started her career as a software engineer.  She specialises in business transformation, using data science, agile and user-centred approaches to integrate human behaviour and technology.

Kim has over 20 years’ experience working across regulation, systems engineering, compliance and project management. Kim has held senior leadership roles across multiple Federal agencies and led business compliance functions for organisations in Australia, Asia and the US.

As the National Manager of Wellbeing and Analytics at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Kim led an agency-wide transformation programme that realised $1m in direct savings annually and improved the health of over 500 employees.

Kim loves governance, risk-control and compliance!!  She has commanded Federal inspectorates and regulated the Australian Intelligence community.

Kim is a certified Scrum Master, qualified trainer, investigator, lead auditor and lecturer at ANZSOG.  She has been a freelance professional in the Australian music industry for over 15 years and held compliance roles at national music festivals. She loves to code and ski (not at the same time) and is a volunteer therapy dog handler.


* Lisa Brand

– MPhil BPsych (Hons) Postgrad Dip (Clin Psych).

– Certified Organisational Coach

* Kim Herbert

– BSc Computing Science (First Class Honours and the University Medal)

– Certified Scrum Master

Lisa and Kim are experienced educators across the public sector. At the continued invitation of Harvard’s Professor Malcolm K. Sparrow (an international expert in regulation and risk control), both Lisa and Kim guest lecture at the executive program Managing Regulation, Enforcement and Compliance.

Let’s put it simply: Lisa debugs people, Kim debugs systems.  Together, they are the “Coach and the Coder” who transform the way people and systems interact.

The Peril of Parallel Investigations in Workplace Violence Threat Assessment: How to Identify and Mitigate Potential Problems

Dr Stephen Hart3
1Protect International Risk And Safety Services Inc, Vancouver, Canada, 2Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, 3University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Whenever a workplace violence threat assessment is conducted, it is possible – and even likely – that other investigations are being considered or already underway. Depending on the nature of the workplace and the incidents that triggered the threat assessment, parallel investigations may include such things as fitness for duty or return to work investigations; workplace climate, disciplinary, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct, and human rights investigations; and even police or national security investigations. Improperly conducted workplace violence threat assessments can inadvertently impede or render invalid parallel investigations; in the worst-case scenario, they can obstruct justice by interfering with active police investigation of a criminal offence. In this presentation, Dr. Hart will discuss the parallel investigations most commonly encountered in the course of workplace violence threat assessments. He will then outline the steps organizations and threat assessment professionals can take to identify and mitigate any actual or potential adverse consequences stemming from parallel investigations. He will illustrate his major points through the use of case examples and presentation of a case study.


Dr. Stephen D. Hart obtained his PhD in psychology at the University of British Columbia. He joined the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University in 1990 and was also appointed a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway, in 2000. Outside academia, he is a Director and Threat Assessment Specialist at Protect International Risk and Safety Services Inc. He is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management and a recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals.

Assessing and Managing Institutional Violence in Singapore Prison Service: Looking Beyond the Individual

Miss  Sarah Lavinia Joseph1, Miss Priyathanaa Kalyanasundram1, Mr Wayne Ferroa1
1Singapore Prison Service, Singapore, Singapore

Violence in correctional institutions, be it between persons incarcerated, or against correctional staff, can cause considerable physical and psychological harm. Approaches towards understanding and managing institutional violence have traditionally been focused on individual-oriented factors. PRISM (Promoting Risk Intervention by Situational Management) is a tool which shifts the paradigm towards a consideration of situational risk factors, and its’ contribution to institutional violence. It comprises a set of structured professional guidelines and a systematic protocol which guides the assessment and management of violence risk in correctional institutions.

Given its novel and progressive approach, Singapore Prison Service (SPS) trialled PRISM within two institutions. The researchers collected various information from different sources (e.g. interviews with inmates and officers; questionnaire data) to triangulate data, and sought consultation with the authors for the purpose for the study. Situational risk factors, including organizational factors and physical and security factors, which influenced the risk of violence within institutions were identified across the two institutions. Based on the identified factors, recommendations were developed and proposed to each institution, with the aim of violence reduction. A follow-up at the one-year mark within one of the institutions revealed positive changes to some of the problematic features, which also coincided with a decrease in violence rates. The findings from SPS may easily be extended to other closed psychiatric or custodial settings including Halfway Houses or Juvenile Homes. The process of the PRISM approach, including the benefits and challenges during the trial will also be highlighted.


Priyathanaa Sundram is a psychologist who has been working in the Singapore Prison Service for five years. She received a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Psychology) (Hons) (2nd Upper) from the National University of Singapore in 2013. She mainly works with adult male sexual and violent offenders, conducting risk assessments as well as providing psychological intervention programmes.

The Operational Terrorist Mindset – Behavioural Lessons from Trained and Non-trained Bad Actors

Mr Steve Longford1
1New Intelligence, Canberra, AU

Basic science research in the last decade has made major inroads into understanding the process of indoctrination, radicalization, and extremism that underlies the motivation for bad actors that leads up to the decision to commit acts of violence. With regard to understanding the individuals who become terrorists, the current state of knowledge strong suggests that no set of demographic characteristics reliably distinguish terrorists from non-terrorists. What is not known, however, are the specific behavioural indicators of terrorists and other bad actors as they are engaged in an act of violence. Such knowledge is important for many security-related scenarios including checkpoint security, venue and perimeter security, patrol and reconnaissance missions, and many others.

For the first time in Australia we will present some of the results of a first-of-its-kind, qualitative study on the Operational Terrorist Mindset conducted by Professor David Matsumoto from the University of San Francisco. He extracted the specific cognitions, emotions, expressive behaviours and instrumental behaviours that were mentioned by source data and weighted them by their consistency across sources. Based on these findings, he has developed operational lists of behavioral indicators of bad actors as they are actively engaged in an operation. This presentation will extrapolate on this research and explore implications for workplace threats


For over 2 decades Steve has been assessing threats made against individuals and organisations for the private and public sectors.  He has made sometimes outrageous claims based on flawed analysis and poor information collection protocols.  He has placed a number of individuals at risk by failing to identify the seriousness of threats made against them and similarly been the root cause of unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of resources on individuals who were under no real threat at all.  His advice has sent large teams of investigators in completely the wrong direction and it is highly likely that a number of extortion demands have been met unnecessarily by large corporations based on his advice.  He has been described as arrogant, opinionated and lacking any significant self-awareness, but luckily for him he has created a significant international network or researchers, practitioners and clinicians who continue to provide him both support and material.

Introducing routine risk assessment for occupational violence and aggression in the Emergency Department

Ms Elisa Ilarda1, Dr Ainslie Senz1
1Western Health, Footscray, Australia

Violence in health care settings ia significant problem world-wide.  Emergency Departments are considered high risk areas with the number of incidents of staff exposure to violence ranging from 60 to 90%. Most research around violence in EDs relates to the management of behavioural crises once they occur. Early identification of risk and proactive intervention has the potential to reduce the incidence of crises, reduce the use of restrictive practices, improve overall quality of care and safety.  Review of several violent incidents at Western Health EDs indicated a failure of both objectivity around violence risk and lack of early intervention.

An evidence based tool (the Broset Violence Checklist) was introduced to identify patients with higher likelihood for violence. The BVC uses the presence or absence of six behaviours to predict the potential for violence. The tool was integrated into the Nursing Observation Chart and co-located with a matrix of strategies for various staff disciplines. Together this is locally known as the Behaviours of Concern (BOC) chart.  The BOC chart was implemented in January 2019 along with education.  All patients have the chart commenced on arrival and completed at least hourly along with other observations.  The score is then linked to an escalation and intervention plan.  To our knowledge, this is the first implementation of the tool in an ED.

There was a statistically significant improvement in the performance of violence risk assessments from 30% to 82% (p<0.001), with regular audits now indicating near 100% compliance.  There has also been a significant move from reactive to proactive management of violence (increase in Planned Code Greys of 65%, reduction in Unplanned Code Greys by 11%.)  In addition, mechanical restraint use has reduced by 21%.  Most importantly, we have seen a 100% reduction in Worksafe notifiable injuries with zero significant injuries affecting our workforce.


Elisa Ilarda is a registered Psychologist with a background in forensic, clinical and organisational psychology.  She is currently employed for Western Health managing the occupational violence portfolio in the safety, risk and improvement unit. She has gained prior experience as a Senior Psychologist in correctional centres, hospitals, and Universities. Her prior experience involved providing specialist clinical assessment and treatment to offenders.

Elisa also has a background in organisational psychology where issues such as workplace aggression, violence and bullying may affect the psychological well-being of staff. She has also been a clinical teacher for Melbourne and Monash University and provides expert opinions to Courts in this area and to the Department of Health and Human Services in the prediction of violent and sexual offending.

Ainslie Senz is an Emergency Physician with more than 20 years’ experience across various disciplines in the health industry.  Having trained in Queensland, she moved to Western Health in Victoria 7 years ago, and soon after took on a secondment in Alcohol and Other Drugs within the Emergency Department.  She is currently the Director of the Emergency Department at Footscray Hospital, a metropolitan hospital in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

Her interests lie in creating sustainable and continuous quality improvement practices and developing collaborative multi-disciplinary work relationships.  Along with her management responsibilities, she holds the occupational violence portfolio and chairs a group responsible for the successful implementation of a risk-screening tool for violence and aggression in the ED.

The RISKSAM – A Structured Risk Management Model to use when Preventing Interpersonal Violence

A/Prof. Susanne Strand1,2, MsC Joakim Petersson1
1School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Orebro University, Orebro, Sweden, 2Centre of Forensic Behavioral Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Intimate partner violence and stalking are global public health issues, with at least one in three women and one in six men being a target of such violence at some point during their lifetime (WHO 2013; BRÅ, 2014). Victims of such violence report increased rates of mental ill health in addition to the social, financial and physical costs of victimization (Diette et al., 2014; Hansen et al., 2010; Korkodeilou, 2017; Sheridan & Scott, 2010). Relationship violence can intrude into the victim´s workplace, further impacting upon the victim, presenting a liability for companies and creating the potential for harm to a wider range of people.

Minimising the impact of such violence requires an understanding the nature of risk involved in each case, and what kinds of risk management may be most effective. This can be informed by the use of risk assessment tools, however different organisations often use different tools, leading to different results or emphases. This in turn can interfere with effective communication and development of good risk management plans. This presentation will introduce the RISKSAM, a framework designed to facilitate collaboration and communication about risk and risk management among different groups within or between organisations. The RISKSAM was developed from the presenter´s research with police agencies in both Sweden and Australia (Belfrage & Strand, 2012; McEwan et al., 2017; Petersson & Strand 2019; Strand & Storey, 2019), and is currently being used and evaluated in a Swedish social services department. This presentation will describe the need for and development of the RISKSAM based on our previous work with police, and present a case study of its use by a security agency in a case in which IPV created risk concerns within the victim´s workplace.


Biographies to come


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