The Homeland Security Human Factors Institute
Professional Development Programs
Essential Programs for Our Challenging Times
Now more than ever it is critical that leaders and decision-makers understand the complex behavioral factors that are raising risk and depleting resources needed to respond to our rapidly evolving threat landscape. The Homeland Security Human Factors Institute is offering four new online classes intended to help professionals meet current and emerging challenges.
Behavioral Science Applications offers a comprehensive range of professional development programs covering topics from workplace violence and active assailant prevention and response to the behavioral management of CBRNE terrorism to crowd violence. Our programs are intended for executive managers, and supervisors, as well as front-line employees. These programs equip individuals with the knowledge, skills, and awareness necessary to respond effectively to today's challenging risk environment.
We take pride in our reputation for delivering training that is well-respected by employers and enjoyable and informative for participants. Clients who have taken our courses and workshops agree that the training provided is both essential and valuable to their roles.
These programs are now available on-demand from our training library of more than 25 topics. Check out one of our most recent webinars today. Once you watch the webinar, fill out this form to receive your certificate. Keep an eye on the Professional Development page for updates on upcoming opportunities to learn with Behavioral Science Applications. Give yourself a strategic and tactical advantage by applying accurate behavioral assumptions in all of your emergency and security-related preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. Register for individual classes or the certificate program today or contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key Concepts in Threat Assessment & Threat Management
According to the FBI, threat assessment is a systematic, fact-based method of investigation and examination that blends the collection and analysis of multiple sources of information with published research and practitioner experience, focusing on an individual’s patterns of thinking and behavior to determine whether, and to what extent, a person of concern is moving toward an attack. A threat assessment is not a final product, but the beginning of the management process.
Learn the core components of threat assessment, what constitutes a threat, warning signs of violence, situational risk factors, risk factors for the mentally ill, protective factors, and principles of risk assessment and threat management to help your organization develop an effective threat assessment process and/or team.
Early Recognition of Targeted Violence
Targeted violence, a term originally coined by the behavioral scientists of the U.S. Secret Service, refers to situations in which an individual intentionally commits an act of violence against a preselected target, whether people or places. These acts are potentially foreseeable, as they are the result of an understandable, evolving, and often discernable process of thinking, behavior, and preparation.
According to the FBI, lone actors on a pathway toward violence typically display 4 to 5 observable concerning behaviors that may aid in the early identification of at-risk individuals. Behavior and communication have consistently been determined to be the best pre-incident risk indicators to help identify and stop a would-be attacker.
Comprehensive Active Shooter Incident Management (CASIM)
Every organization and community is vulnerable to violence, regardless of size or type. There is no type of organization or geographic location immune from this risk. The Active Assailant threat is a dynamic, multifaceted problem that requires a multidimensional approach to prevention, response, and recovery. Case studies have indicated that shooters often begin planning and preparing for an attack week, months, and sometimes years in advance. The post-incident consequences for individuals, families, communities, and organizations can last for decades.
To mitigate this risk, it is important to understand the dynamics of the violent event, plan for the full cycle of the event, and prepare those at risk with the necessary information and skills. Understanding and planning for the entire incident cycle is the approach discussed in this program, and is referred to as "Comprehensive Active Shooter Incident Management."
From Radicalization to Mobilization: Understanding Extreme Beliefs and Extreme Behavior
Law enforcement and intelligence officials are deeply concerned about the possibility of terror and violence, given the “perfect storm” of conditions related to the pandemic, financial stress, and political tensions. Violent extremists, whether foreign or domestic, motivated by various violent ideologies have continued to advocate violence and plan attacks.
It can be difficult and frustrating to try to reason with people whose beliefs range from extreme to delusional or to try to refute their evidence. People become radicalized into extreme beliefs in different ways, in different roles, and for different reasons. It may be helpful to distinguish between reasons for joining, remaining in, and leaving extremist organizations. Perceived injustice, a need for identity, and a need for belonging are common vulnerabilities among potential extremists, but there are other powerful psychological forces. It is also important to understand the radicalization process and pathway from radicalization to mobilization. This program will address the key concepts, as well as introduce behavioral indicators that can lead to the early detection and prevention of extremist violence.
Human Element in Cybersecurity
The challenge of dealing with cybercrime is complex. Human factors and the human-computer interface are a central component of cybersecurity, and while technology alone will not prevent cybercrime, neither will people. Because threat actors understand human behavior, they know how to manipulate it to achieve their goals—stealing money and valuable information from enterprises and small businesses alike. These criminals use various types of social engineering to complete their schemes, relying on urgency and name recognition to trick their victims. Unfortunately, this has only become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic as organizations and employees reshape the landscape of work.
It is critical that leaders and decision-makers concerned with security understand the human element and strategies for countering this risk. This program will address related behavioral factors and countermeasures for this vulnerability.
Foundations of Human Behavior in Disasters and Emergencies
This awareness-level program is intended for anyone involved in the various phases of emergency management, security, business continuity planning, or related disciplines. The program addresses both the emotional and behavioral responses to disasters, violent incidents, and public health emergencies, and introduces strategies for managing the individual, organizational, and community impact of crisis events.
Emergency and disaster policies, plans, and exercises must be based on what people are most likely to do in crisis conditions. An incomplete or inaccurate understanding of human behavior in critical incidents can complicate and compromise emergency response and recovery efforts. This training program is intended for decision-makers and planners who have a responsibility to understand and stay current with behavioral research as it relates to emergency management. This program introduces must-know information to help leaders form accurate behavioral assumptions to guide plans and policies, emergency response protocols, drills, and exercises.
Human Behavior and Mass Violence
Violence is behavior, and like other behavior, insight into its causes and effects can provide actionable intelligence for everyone concerned with prevention, response, and recovery. The FBI has determined that individuals on a pathway to mass violence typically display four to five observable indicators prior to an attack. Stopping mass violence begins with understanding mass violence.
It is important for leaders and planners to anticipate the entire life cycle of an incident of mass violence, including those involving firearms, as well as other forms such as bombings, vehicular attacks, and other weapons, such as knives.) Our model involves the application of the four phases of emergency management (i.e., mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery) to mass violence incidents. It may not be possible to stop every act of violence, but violent actors can be disrupted, distracted, or defeated at several different points along the pathway to violence. This program will help participants prepare individuals, communities, and organizations to detect and deter, respond and recover from all forms of conventional violence.
Behavioral Challenges in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
The true weapon of the terrorist is not chemical, biological, or radiological…rather, it is psychological. Terror is fear, and terrorists seek to create and manipulate levels of fear to achieve their strategic goals. The extreme lethality and disruptive effect of CBRN weapons make them highly attractive to extremist and terrorist groups, who conceive that their use will help them to achieve their strategic goals. CBRN weapons could be said to be true "terror weapons" because their psychological impact usually exceeds the extent of their physical destructiveness, however massive.
Acts of unconventional terrorism, using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials, can result in unique and complex medical and psychological consequences. Understanding these nightmarish weapons as instruments of psychological warfare, rather than weapons of mass (physical) destruction is critical to planning and executing an effective response. For leaders and decision-makers to understand and develop effective countermeasures and strategies for consequence management, it is critical that they are fully aware of the powerful and unique psychological effects of these exotic hazards.
Behavioral Factors in Civil Unrest and Collective Violence
Worldwide, incidents of civil unrest have doubled over the last decade. Every region of the world has experienced hundreds of civil unrest events over the last ten years. The U.S. is currently experiencing one of the most significant and prolonged periods of civil unrest, often characterized by violence and the destruction of property.
Demonstrators have experimented with a variety of new tactics and strategies--from leaf blowers to lasers, from balloons to power tools, protestors, as well as public safety authorities are deploying new strategies and tactics.
Safety and security professionals, as well as emergency management leaders and first responders of all types benefit from knowledge and understanding of the causes, warning signs, and behavioral dynamics of groups, crowds, and mobs that are associated with violent and destructive behavior. Such an understanding better prepares decision-makers and responders for the challenges associated with the use of new and dangerous tactics, social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and globalization as they relate to the development of crisis situations and the potential of dangerous and violent collective behavior. Even civil unrest in taking place in nearby communities can be highly disruptive to all types of business operations and pose a risk to employers and employees alike. This updated program provides timely, actionable information to better help leaders and responders protect their organizations’ personnel and assets when responding to potential group, crowd, or mob situations.
Pandemics and Public Health Emergencies: Critical Behavioral Insights
Pandemics are slow-moving mass fatality incidents that are simultaneously medical and behavioral health crises. They are global health emergencies that can result in a catastrophic loss of life and overwhelming levels of fear and stress across a significant portion of the population.
Due to the invisibility of the threat and the prolonged nature of the crisis, the behavioral health response to public health emergencies is unlike that seen in other disasters. In addition to traumatic stress reactions typically associated with disasters, unique forms of stress, anxiety, and grief result from these long, complex emergencies. Public health emergencies can devastate lives while leaving physical structures and technologies untouched. The behavioral response to such events is highly sensitive to perception and communications. In this type of crisis, the behavioral footprint is far greater than the actual medical impact of the event and has a lasting effect on individuals, families, communities, and organizations for many years after the crisis.
To help individuals and organizations more effectively mitigate the behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies, this program address a wide range of affected populations, raising awareness of the behavioral health challenges, as well as strategies and techniques for coping and types of exposure/experience with an emergency across the entire event timeline.
Safety and Survival in Hostile Encounters
Who we are and how others see us can impact our safety in public spaces and how we might experience harassment or aggression. The increase in reported hate incidents and crimes ranging from verbal attacks to fatal assaults is leaving many afraid for their families and their own personal safety.
It can be difficult, even dangerous, to be the target of harassment, intimidation, or violence. With the recent increase in REMV, especially directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), it can seem threatening and scary out there, but that doesn’t mean people should live in fear. With tensions still high related to the pandemic, economic strife, and the current social and political environment, many people are on edge. It is important at times like these that everyone knows how to handle difficult or dangerous encounters to keep themselves and others safe.
Mental Health Emergencies in the Workplace
U.S. Health & Human Services reports that one in five Americans suffers from a mental illness, and further, that mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders are now surpassing all other forms of disability worldwide. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on mental health, and the effects of that health crisis are just beginning to be seen.
Leaders must also be cognizant of and prepared to address the multiple stressors hitting the workforce in a short period of time that may weigh on employees’ coping mechanisms. The climbing suicide rate has become a problem for businesses, too. The Bureau of Labor of Statistics has reported that more people are killing themselves in the workplace than ever before.
The current unprecedented situation may compound and magnify emotional reactions with fear, frustration, anger, and distrust.
Left unchecked, mental health problems in the workplace can be disruptive and dangerous. This program provides actionable information about the impact and signs of common mental illnesses, available management strategies, risk factors for suicide, and methods of crisis prevention. It will also provide an introduction to behavioral health crisis intervention using psychological first aid, and mental health first aid concepts.
Incel Violent Extremists (IVE) & Targeted Violence: The Evolving Threat Landscape
Incel, shorthand for involuntary celibate, is not simply a form of self-identification, but rather an ideology and self-described movement of disaffected, disconnected, and angry men who have found justification for violence against others in society who seem to have an easy time finding love and acceptance. Attackers within the involuntary celibate ideology have been responsible for lethal attacks in the United States and Canada resulting in more than 50 deaths. The FBI assesses that Involuntary Celibate Extremists (IVEs) represent a persistent threat of violence.
Beginning early on in the pandemic, the Cambridge Cybercrime Centre reported an intensification in the incel subculture marked by a significant increase in murderous fantasies fueled by isolation and self-pity. While the radicalization and mobilization process can be similar to other violent ideologies, incels have a very specific worldview and lexicon that may assist in risk identification and intervention for professionals.
Trauma-informed Security & Emergency Management
A high percentage of the general public have experienced serious direct or indirect trauma at some point in their lives. Trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on an individual’s functioning and response to the world around them.
Trauma shapes every aspect of a person’s life and influences how they react to other people and situations. It can affect a person’s worldview, thoughts, and feelings, including attitudes toward authority, mistrust of policies, and views about aggression. Individuals with traumatic histories can be more reactive, and more suspicious of others who are trying to assist them. Understanding the impact of trauma on those we serve and those who serve is a necessity for those in leadership roles, as well as those who are hands-on with emergency and security response activities.
Managing Threatening Communications
There are a number of reasons why people may make annoying, intimidating, and perhaps even frightening communications with other individuals or organizations. Hostile contact with former co-workers, intimate partners, or strangers who have developed an interest or fixation can be motivated by a range of emotional forces ranging from anger to romantic obsession.
Contact from such individuals can come in the form of calls, texts, emails, written letters, and approach behaviors, such as following or stalking. These behaviors can be disruptive and in some situations, dangerous. This program will provide guidance for the analysis of known and anonymous hostile communications and threats to enhance personal and organizational safety and security.
Human Trafficking: Recognition, Response & Recovery
Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery, with illegal smuggling and trading of people, for forced labor or sexual exploitation. It is now considered the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world pulling in an estimated $99 billion each year. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are 24.9 million victims of human trafficking around the globe, 71% of whom are women and children.
Security, emergency management, and other front-line workers are often the first to come into contact with this covert crime. As such, professionals and volunteers working in these areas play a critical role in identifying and responding to human trafficking victims. Learn what to look for and how to help.
Intimate Partner Violence in the Workplace: Emerging Trends
Intimate Partner or Domestic violence has no boundaries and doesn’t stay at home. It compromises the safety of thousands of employees across North America every day, often with tragic, destructive, and fatal results. One in every 4 women and one in 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Department of Labor reports that victims of domestic violence lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S., resulting in a $1.8 billion loss in productivity for employers. Participants will gain increased knowledge about evaluating and handling domestic violence situations, as well as new approaches and resources for mitigating the risk of Type IV violence at their worksites.
Psychological First Aid: Core Concepts-Key Skills
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is as natural, necessary, and accessible as basic medical first aid. Effective delivery of Psychological First Aid in the immediate aftermath of a violent or traumatic event has been found to address the obvious emotional consequences of the incident, as well to mitigate financial exposure through litigation, worker’s comp stress-related claims, attrition, and lost productivity.
The Psychological First Aid Skills program provides an overview of psychological first aid, including three primary skills for use in the zero-hour of a crisis to assist people with the immediate emotional distress resulting from an accident, injury, or sudden shocking event. As with basic medical first aid skills, responders don't need to be doctors, nurses, or trained medical or mental health professionals to provide initial care to those in need. Early psychological support can alleviate suffering and reduce the likelihood of lasting emotional problems, as well as expedite their return to pre-crisis levels of functioning.
Behavioral Factors in Insider Threats
Preventing violence in the workplace or the loss of sensitive information is now more than ever a top priority for organizations.
It has taken on an unprecedented urgency because of high-profile losses of information, intelligence capabilities, and lives. Humans are an organization's greatest asset and weakest link in security, and research shows that this will not abate post-pandemic. In order to truly protect the organization and workforce, professionals must understand human behavior and how insider threats develop and evolve.
The pandemic has resulted in an increased number of disaffected employees, some of whom are angry and feel betrayed. The need to understand the insider threat in all its forms and for all of its motives has never been more important. It is critical that security and emergency management professionals have the ability to detect and identify those threats, assess their risk, and manage that risk before concerning behaviors manifest in an actual insider incident.
Understanding & Preventing Extremism in the Workplace
The contemporary organization strives for inclusion and diversity—not simply in terms of demographics, but in attitudes, opinions, and ways of thinking. Diverse ideas can fuel innovation and create radical change, leading to new levels of success. While diversity can strengthen an organization, strong or extreme beliefs in the workplace can be a two-edged sword. An employee’s passion for a belief or cause might manifest itself as a real commitment to their employer or a project, but it can also create friction, erode workforce cohesion, and consume valuable resources when dealing with conflict.
Finding the right balance between welcoming diverse views and minimizing tension between those who hold those views and others can be tricky, but it is necessary. Left unchecked, extreme beliefs can not only threaten cohesion and productivity, they can compromise safety and raise the risk of disruptive behaviors, even violence. In this polarized and adversarial climate, it will be important for leaders to recognize and respond to extremism in the workplace.