Episode 002 of Inside the Law features former United States Secret Service agent, Jason Wells.
Follow him and ask questions (he reads every single one) on his very active Quora page.
Jason is the author of Our Path to Safety: A U.S. Secret Service Agent's Guide to Creating Safe Communities. The book outlines how citizens, school and businesses can identify and assess threat-related behaviors:
What if there was a way to identify a threat to a school, a business or a community before it happened? What attackers who target innocent people have in common is not their psychological conditions nor their social upbringing, but rather their behavioral actions prior to their violence. These behaviors have been studied at length for years, and are now available to the public.
The book was inspired by the firsthand experience of a close friend in the Washington Navy Yard shooting, in September, 2013. The attacker, a 34-year-old gunman named Aaron Alexis, entered the facility in the morning and began randomly shooting, with the intent to kill as many innocent people as possible.
We remember and honor one heroic victim in particular, Mr. Arthur Lee Daniels, who perished while selflessly ensuring the survival of his co-worker.
Jason’s book was edited by writer and Towson University professor, Russ VanWestervelt.
Jason Wells is also the President and Founder of The National Advancements for Proactive Safety (NAPS), an educational non-profit organization committed to providing a safe community through intervention processes.
Part 2 of the Jason Wells interview (episode #3), including links and show notes
In this episiode:
- 01:46 Heather and the Washington Navy Yard shooting
- 09:33 “The vast, vast majority of people who have any kind of a mental health condition are not violent people”
- 09:42 “We should commend these individuals who take it upon themselves to get the help that they need”
- 10:23 There is a mental health stigma
- 12:35 If you’re feeling that way (red flag) about another person, chances are other people are too.
- 13:00 People should feel empowered to DO something when something seems off. Don’t just ignore your instincts.
- 14:00 Emergency contacts > If you notice a problem, get those family and friend contacts involved
- 14:40 “I can almost guarantee you that the emergency contact is gonna be a family member. And, I’ll tell ya, if you see it at the office, they’re seeing it at home. And it adds to the case to get somebody help.”
- 15:02 Point of Jason’s book is to teach people to observe, assess and act on potentially life-threatening situations before they result in tragic outcomes.
- 16:50 When I think of how the process would work in a school, I typically go high to a guidance counselor. When I think of how it would work in an office, I typically go right to human resources.
- 17:40 Where does someone go to get their reputation back especially given stigmas about mental health, if reported? Jason “I don’t know. And it’s a valid point.”
- 18:42 “To not say anything or not do anything is the worst thing we can do.”
- 19:33 Right now. we’re not teaching what to be watching for, or how to respond. We’re teaching reactive measures (lockdown drills, etc).
- 20:00 We’re not looking for the dangers. We’re waiting for them to come to us in our schools, workplaces, etc.
- 20:13 People are under the assumption that we cannot identify the threats before they arrive, but that’s just not the case.
- 21:48 Proactive - how many kids have died in a school fire in the last 50 years? Zero.
- 25:25 Key risk is a sudden major negative change in their life (job loss, divorce)
- 26:45 (people say to themselves) “I’m overreacting. He’ll be fine.”
- 27:56 Cliff notes for psych conditions
- 28:21 How to teach kids to be safe around guns
- 28:49 Jason was also a firearms instructor
- 30:46 Since his daughter was 18 months old, she knows that if she sees a gun: stop, don’t touch, tell an adult
- 34:07 on active shootings being meticulously planned and rehearsed
- 34:43 Fallacy that US Secret Service trains professional bullet catchers
- 35:09 Secret Service = proactive safety, to an extreme degree
- 37:39 Every single threat is investigated, even those on social media
- 38:13 If you hear or see a threat, notify the local Secret Service field office
- 38:18 What the law actually says about threatening the President+ (it’s a federal crime - not protected by First Amendment rights) 18 USC 871
- 39:16 Direct and veiled (implied) threats
- 40:39 I’ve had to go investigate many of them … and they were mortified. They didn’t realize what they were doing at the time. They acted emotionally. An in this day and age of Twitter and Facebook…
- 42:30 Lots of people dislike Trump / Obama - just can’t threaten their lives (great clip)
- 43:45 Exceptional Case Study Project (ECSP) - studied assassins of political leaders, celebrities,
- 45:18 The underlying conditions of the assailants in Sandy Hook, Columbine, John Lennon, etc. are very similar, even though the targets are wildly different.
- 46:27 “(All assailants) had similar behavioral conditions. They just went after different targets.”
- 46:33 “The point I’m getting at is that the target doesn’t matter. The behavioral indicators that we need to identify ahead of time are what’s important.”
- 46:45 “It doesn’t matter whether they’re targeting a school, or a political official, or a celebrity, or their own family, or themselves. Keep in mind suicide is a targeting … it’s a self-targeting. What matters is that we identify the behaviors that could lead up to the violent action of some kind.”
- 47:19 “Males tend to, typically, act out against another target. Females will act internally. They’ll internalize it and attack themselves.”
- 48:20 Amanda Todd, victim of cyberbullying and blackmail.
- 50:38 When Amanda’s video- a cry for help - went viral, and there was no change…
- 51:47 - How and why Jason is so deeply affected by Amanda and others (52:00 fatherhood + Sandy Hook)
- 52:35 On a teacher who died cradling and sheltering a child at Sandy Hook
- 53:16 “I don’t know if I would’ve felt the same way (about Sandy Hook) before I was a father, but I just don’t want to see it happen again. I don’t want to see it ever happen again. Nobody does, but I don’t … I really don’t want to see it ever happen again. I want to really, like, do something about it. And I hope other people do too. And I don’t think it would take a lot if we had more people to get involved. And get involved with more proactive intervention.”
And MUCH more...
This last section, about Sandy Hook, is incredibly powerful! Jason articulates the meaning behind his non-profit organization, NAPS.
Keywords: aaronalexis arthurdaniels cyberbullying exceptionalvasestudy federalagent jasonwells jodiefoster lawenforcement lockdown mentalhealth navyyardshooting presidentobama protectiveintelligence secretservice targetedviolence
TRANSCRIPT: Welcome to another episode of Inside the Law My name is Mark Gavin and it is my great pleasure to have as today's guest Jason welts Hi Jason hello Mark thank you for having me sure Jason is a former federal agent with the United States Secret Service he protected presidents Obama Bush forty three Clinton Bush forty one and Herbert Hoover. Shutter No if it was that far back looking a little young for Hoover Jason is the author of our path to safety a guide to creating safe communities and we are going to delve deeply into that book he is also the founder and chief executive of national advancement for proactive safety maps a five A one c three nonprofit dedicated to training parents teachers and communities in how do you observe that sass and act on concerning behavior and others before it evolves into a violent rampage such as the Columbine shootings or Sandy Hook massacre Jason this is very personal to you and it's really it seems in the last few years that this is maybe become your life's work right the introduction of our path to safety you tell the story of a very dear friend Heather who was like a sister to you growing up and her involvement in a violent shooting rampage can you tell us about that and I want to make sure to focus on some of the heroic bravery of Arthur Dean sure of course first off a lot of people who have read my book mediately bring up Heather Heather had such a profound impact on their life I think because it it brought a personal aspect to the to these horrific real life situations that occur that we typically would read about in the news Heather is quite real a lot of people have asked me if she's a character who I created based on several individuals and that's not the case at all she's very much real I did grow up with her and I have a very close relationship with her to this day and her family when I wrote the book my introduction was. Not going to be about her at all I felt like that was a very traumatic event that had occurred in her life and I did not feel it was my place to ask her if I could add that to my story Heather approached me she knew about my writing and knew about naps and the work that I was doing and she had approached me it was fortuitous it was about three weeks and saws wrapping up my first edits on the book and she called me on the blue and said I want you to know how important this work is that you're doing and if there's anything I can do for you to help you out please let me know I said well you know Heather if you're if you're offering I what I was going to see if you might be willing to let me talk with you a little bit about what would happen and maybe even finish my book and I didn't know how she was going to handle that and she was she was extremely delighted to help out she said absolutely anything I can do I will I will be happy to talk and so we met that weekend. At a little coffee shop that we both knew in they were that we grew up and she still lived in the neighborhood that we grew up and I drove down to sear and it was really nice we had an ice for half of our conversation and to to hear her her insights and her experience and the way she described the detail and it was it was very moving I don't know house describe it and I'm so sorry we lost people to the Navy Yard shooting in the but I'm so grateful that she's OK I can see in your eyes and on your face how deeply this is affecting you even though you're living it now that's exactly when I was remembering it I remember the conversation with her and. Just how impressed I was if you knew her family you would you would be surprised that's the kind of people they are I tried to do the best I could with the intro chapter and it seems like a lot of people. Took to it and they seem to have liked it so it made them want to read more which is good can you walk. Yes through what that story yes on the morning of September sixteenth two thousand and thirteen a contractor who was assigned to the Navy Yard. Individual by the name of Aaron Alexis. Entered. The Navy Yard building. And with a shotgun and a pistol. And began randomly shooting the. The facility. There was a lockdown drills in place and they were. Activated People were some people were able to get out of the building the building where he attacked building a one ninety seven and he. He wandered the halls and looking for victims when he came across that individual he attempted to shoot him. Sometimes he was successful and sometimes he missed. He was. Familiar with the facility he was familiar with the the security measures. And he had had previous. Conditions that. Suggested that this was a long term. Build up in his psyche. That led to a violent. Reaction eventually and I don't mean to say eventually that it took a long time because it didn't the response was extremely fast based on security for the Navy Yard but. There was a gunfight they ended up. Cordoning off the security and a cordon off a Lexus and there was a gun battle for approximately thirty minutes the finishing of the entire. Massacre twelve people died one of which was the assailant Aaron Alexis and eight more people were injured obviously hundreds of people were traumatized Arthur Daniels lies incredibly generous and and her all I can self-sacrifice what happened the way I understand the way from my research Arthur Daniels was an employee at the facility a civilian employee he was a personal friend of my friend Heather and he had been on a smoke break with one of his coworkers believe it might have been his supervisor I believe and I'm not a hundred percent sure of this I believe that he had quit smoking but he went to go spend. The break with his friend his friend and while smoke alone when they were out there that's when Alexis began attacking and about the time that they were outside so when they walked back in to the facility there was gunfire and they they were in the wrong place at the wrong time Arthur Daniels had the cognisance and the presence of mind to see that there was something very bad happening and he could have run. And from what I understand he turned according to his coworker who life he'll to Billy saved in my opinion he turned he pushes coworker back through the door that they just come through close the door behind him and. He was a victim too Aaron Alexis and he died there he was killed there. Saving his friend. Is the way I understand it I don't know how. I'm ashamed that. When I think about what I would have done I probably in the been. I would have acted I probably would not have acted so selflessly or bravely. And that's just. I don't know I don't know how. It would have been or how anyone I don't think I can answer until they're in that position put. That man that he can that he did do that. He should be remembered. They all should be remembered. He I think in particular choosing it's not as though it simply was imposed upon him he made a decision to try and protect other people I agree I agree I think it's great and I think it's a it's it's not pretty it's it's very powerful it's speaks to. The character speaks to high character and that my. My friend Heather told me when she spoke about him she was not surprised she said that's the kind of person he was. While we remember Arthur Daniels today and his heroism and yes and as you said what wonderful character yes with respect to the shooter we're going to get more and more into this but mental health this is a person that clearly had an awful lot wrong mentally to be driven to a point where he would undertake these acts from the general see him point what in this country are we not doing correctly with respect to diagnosing and caring for people with mental health but what's very important that we we we get out right now that I made very clear in my book is that the vast vast majority of people who have any kind of a mental health condition are not violent people we need to understand that and the other thing I want to get across is that. We should commend these individuals who take it upon themselves to get the help that they need and and commend the the community that supports them both the personal and the professional the people who support them and recognize it as it now. Being something that is taboo or something that we we look at that should be a negative aspect that's that's not at all that we need to applaud them for going and getting the help they need and the medical professionals who to help them it's important we get that across I think that there is a negative stigma even to this day with regards to mental health that people look at it and say you know well you know if that's if that's not if they've got issues quote or if they have if they're taking medication quote that's you know I don't know if they're they're all there but there are individuals who need more help than others it's not a medical professional I'm not diagnosing any condition but in the case of Aaron Alexis there was a history of having someone on Healthy of violent behavior and coupled with some medical conditions that he had been diagnosed with mental health conditions that he had been diagnosed with that he chose to not get himself the appropriate help and. It appears that there was some steadily increasing violence that stirred in him do I think that we have the systems in place to help people like Aaron Alexis I absolutely do I have no doubt about that I believe that we have the individuals the professionals who are who are there to help and I think they do an excellent job I think we need to do better at identifying those conditions and you don't have to be a medical professional to identify some really conditions make a wonderful and allergy in your book you say look at fires we are all condition and we all have a responsibility to identify and report a fire that is dangerous and you walk us through in this book we'll get into a lot more detail about how to recognize what is a dangerous condition in somebody and here are some steps that we can take to have our eyes open and really pay. Attention on how to yeah I absolutely will I will say that I think that the vast majority of situations that that occur are based on people not acting because they convinced themselves that they were overreacting when they saw something they said you know if they saw a condition an individual or they saw something that made quote red flags go up in their head they said Well. I'm over reacting this is me they internalize it they say you know why but if you're feeling like that about a situation or a person chances are that other people are too and it behooves you to take some some pro action does that mean to call nine one one or call cops know not necessarily it may it's a case by case basis but to turn the other cheek or look the other way is not the right answer because now that allows individuals like Aaron Alexis to continue to act in a way that may cause his death and cause. Violent pattern of eventually so I guess if there's one word that I would say that I I wanted to get across in my book was empowerment. It's to empower people to do something to say you know what I'm not going do anything I wasn't to do a thing but you know what I remember this guy Wells he wrote a book about this once and I remember he put something in there about this maybe I should look that up and now there's a book there on the on their shelf where I hope there is that they would be able to open it up and they could say oh yeah you know what he says some of this maybe I should call a guidance counselor maybe I should call a human resource specialist if you're a corporate office that's where a lot of these things happen you know corporate offices one of the first things they do on day one when you walk in and you sit down with the H.R. department they give. A bunch of paperwork to fill out and one of those things that they give you is emergency contact information and you fill it out and you give it to him Well I encourage corporations to use that emergency contact information call the family call the friends if there is nothing that says that this is a confidential matter and you can't call them if you're recognizing something with someone in your office who is having some issues then it behooves you to contact your H.R. representative or your supervisor and let them know hey they need to be using that emergency contact information they provided when they first join this company and they need to be calling their family and friends and get those family and friends involved that's what family and friends do and I can almost guarantee you that the emergency contact is going to be a family member and I'll tell you if you see it at the office there seen it at home and it adds to the case to get somebody help and this is all proactive it's not about getting someone arrested it's not about getting somebody a record or getting somebody a stigma it's about getting them help that they may need they might be going through a crisis in their lives a short term crisis that might be a have a major change in their lives and it's about getting them help the point of your book is to teach and encourage people to observe I said yes and act and potentially life threatening situations before they result in tragic outcomes and you say that it's the responsibility of everyone in the community to be the eyes and ears for identifying and acting on danger but then at the same time I'm concerned because I don't want to overreact and blow up this person's career or if I'm a high school student I don't want this person to be forever trailed by the rumors that. He and it's mostly males he's a weirdo or the Unabomber or whatever else and kids can particularly be cool how do I balance between those two very important concerns. It's a great it's a great question and it's a. Tough situation to address I would honestly suggest that everybody in the in the hierarchy who would be contacted Be aware that this is a proactive approach so that they themselves are not reacting or just shooting from the hip so to speak that they're not just you know that it needs to be a thorough long term process and there needs to be a several tiers of vetting to ensure that the individual who is in question is not being targeted unnecessarily I think what we have right now is that there is. Administrative responsibilities but when it comes to work when it comes to schools when it comes to when I when I think of how the process would work in a school I typically go right to the guidance counselor when I talk about going into an office or a corporate environment I typically go right to the human resources office they tend to be the guidance counselor's of sorts in the in the corporate environment and when it comes to a personal aspect family friends it becomes a family friend decision based on the the patriarch or the the matriarch of the family we need to ensure that those guidance counselors the human resource specialists. The leaders of the family are sensible to understand that this is a case by case basis and not an administrative process and that it needs to be assessed accordingly. That makes great logical sense and I see what we're trying to prevent here. I also come back to you I'm really I'm torn by this I come back to you if I am wrongly reported and this ties in to what you said earlier about there being such a great stigma and lack of understanding about mental health issues if I am wrongly reported or. Correctly reported weird when I go to get my reputation back. I don't know and it's a valid point and because even though I understand exactly you're saying because even though it Ministre to flee the paperwork may say that you're cleared you stuff interact with the other people on the day to day basis how has that affected your relationship how that affected your career How's that affected your time in school all of it is very valid. I truly believe that in a lot of ways if people police their own in situations like this people will know what they're not supposed to be doing what they're not supposed to be saying that they're not supposed to be at but to not say anything or not do anything is the worst thing we can do. I would rather. Have a society where we can where we are all comfortable with recognizing the possible dangers of possible red flags. And have a false report that not have any reporter at all it's also something that evolves over time even though I well literally wrote the book on it I am not I am not the end of the already on it people will come up with better ideas and ways to make this work but it we can't even have that until we're playing the game and right now we're not doing anything we're not doing any assessment we're not helping We're not teaching children what to be watching for we're not teaching this in in businesses we're teaching reactive measures we're teaching lockdown drills and we're teaching how to close off school doors and and I think that's great because there's a time to matter how preventative we can be we also have to have a deterrent and we also have to have a reactionary answer to those ones that slip through the cracks. But I would like to get to the point that we are looking for those. Future. Dangers we're not doing that right now we're waiting for the dangerous to come to us we're waiting for the dangerous to come to us in our schools waiting for it to come to us in our offices that's why we have lockdown drills. And because people are under the assumption that we cannot identify the threats before they arrive and that's just not the case and some of the things we're going to go through later when in your book you actually walk us through here are the indicators that gave years and things that we may not catch all of them but we're going to catch an awful lot and it sounds like to carry an analogy forward the way you're saying look it's better to have a false report then no report it's almost like the fire department that would say listen if there's a common carbon monoxide alarm goes off in your house don't just shut it off and pull the battery call us we want to come out we'll have twenty false alarms that we can catch the one that's real and prevent five people from dying in your house and we brought the fire analogy earlier and I'm very proud of that because it is it's a very recognizable analogy everybody knows it and the reason everybody knows it understands it is because at a very young age you were taught this is fire and this is what it is if you see it in this way you know on a campground then it's safe you know in a in a safe camp environment or in a fire place if you see it in a building as a building a smoldering to the ground this is bad you need and these are the people you need to call to do it don't run in there and fight the fire get the pressure to come in to fight the fire they don't expect you to just look for fire and then pull the fire alarm they are proactive to the hilt and if you look back over the last fifty years at schools how many children have died in a fire in the last fifty years in a school in the United States zero not one have they had fires at schools absolutely do they have fire drills absolutely do. They have training measures to identify what to do in the case of our Yes they do have they had fatalities at schools based on fire no not the last fifty years they train it they drill it in people's heads people never forget it and then you train your children to do the same thing we are creatures of learning habit we can learn how to prevent all kinds of catastrophes if we know the indicators to look for. That makes perfect sense to me. In our path to safety another part of the answer might be whether to report or not report you talk about listening to yourself listen to your Got listen to something going on in the back of your mind and those indicators that. If if I'm uncomfortable if I feel like something's wrong and it's really eating at me don't just shut down what is eating at me pay attention to it and there's a book called protecting the gift and it's oh it's having to daven tobacco sure your wonderful book and it's made to teach parents to get children and the parents themselves to tune into their inner voice and there's a lot of power there and a lot of predictive sort of inner technology so to speak that when our radar is on and it's saying something's not right about this situation act on it don't be quiet and I feel like that's connected to some of the material in your book well I definitely will tell you that Mr De Becker has been quite an inspiration from his his Gift of Fear series and the work that he does to the stay with his extraordinary organisation and I have the utmost respect for everything that he's done and I agree I personally I think that if Mr de Becker ever gave me the privilege of reading my book he would read it and go I was saying this twenty years ago and so I have to give credit where credit's due. For that. Coming from not just as a writer but as a former law enforcement officer who specialized in studying behaviors in individuals and there's a huge draw from that and. From his his experience from his information so credit where credit's due and I agree I think where I help out people with our path to safety is that right now people may recognize that something's going on they may have red flags going off in their head but I really think that what makes people has a tend to act is that they don't have a comfortable understanding of a definition of what they're seeing they lack the definition they see something happening in a person and they say or they see something a way a person is acting multiple ways multiple different things I make that clear I think in the book that one indicator is not enough you really need to be looking at a comfortable volume comfortable amount of activity and possible multiple indicators but to see somebody do one thing one time I don't think that's fair to say to see one person go online at school one time to a firearms website or something or look at a picture of a farm I don't think that's fair to report somebody under a condition like that which may answer your question from earlier about what we need to be looking for there needs to be a pattern a comfortable pattern. And even when there is a pattern I genuinely believe that people would be has to act if they don't. Know the definition if they don't understand that this is actually a term that's being used you know that this person is under go for example somebody maybe having a major change in their life a major change for the negative they may be going through a divorce they may be going through sudden job loss and now they've suddenly they've had a shift in their their change will NATO. Changes sudden negative changes in a person's life cause high levels of stress and those high levels of stress could cause something radical to happen. And my going to say that they're going to go out and do violent activity no I go out and say they're going to some suicidal have suicidal tendencies No but you don't want to get to that point you want to recognize that they're having a major change in their life and we want to deal with it before it gets to those serious concerns people will tend to not act if they don't know that a major negative change in a person's life that there is actually a definition for that that you need to be cognizant enough rather than just look at him go there's something going on with them and they're getting divorced and everything but I don't I don't know what that is so I'm just going to. Be OK I'm overreacting I'm sure they'll be fine and I'm overreacting this time to be the two things right there people say people internalize and say I'm overreacting or they look at some males and say ah they'll be OK and our path to safety provides a framework so that layperson on the street like myself can look at something and then stack it up against what you've put together like here's how to look at there are some impressive medical journals that start to address this psychologically and behaviorally behavioral studies and and I am by no stretch an individual like that but I wanted to at least provide some kind of as you say a lay definition for individuals for our our parents our families teachers coworkers to have a quick reference guide and to see the where the material came from where it was referenced from the research and feel free if my simple writing is not up to the intelligent standards of the reader that they can go and find it and read more in-depth but this is a what I think of it is is a nice starting point for someone to have a guide of sorts for every day I think of it as a story that's that's a great way to look I close as absolutely sure I can get. The essence right all these different things and if I need to dig down further you can write a source write if you're writing your or your doctoral thesis or dissertation on it I I'm flattered if you use some of my references but I don't think that I'm your guy you may want to dig deeper this interview is over right so we're out here I got up. Jason I read an article you originally posted on Quora. Fatherly on the web and tell me how to teach kids to be safe around guns that's a that's a tough situation firearms guns are such a polarizing conversation in our country right now and I will tell you that my background in addition to being a federal agent one of my collateral duties was that I was a firearms instructor so I trained other agents in firearms in every aspect not just shooting in weapons retention and maintenance but but also in in safety safety for themselves safety for their families and that included how to talk to your kids or if you should talk to your kids should you discuss firearms and it ran the gamut from individuals I spoke with I I knew individuals who to this day they feel it's a very open discussion with their children and their their their spouses and their families and then I know other people that it's a it's something that they it's not meant to be discussed in the household I respect that I respect their opinions I respect their their their the way they run their homes I just want to get across that there is a need for understanding that there is a very dangerous tool in the home or is being required to be used. I'm probably. Inciting the wrath from all parties right now from. Gun enthusiasts to the. And are a lobbyist but for myself personally and I can't speak for males but it has been extremely effective with me I have I have not taken my children to a firearms range I know individuals who have at a young age they try to get there their children and instilled with it growing up in the great city of Fredericksburg Virginia it was not unusual to know young children who were out hunting with their parents and so they were exposed to firearms very quickly where I think it starts with education that is where I've always stood is that you. You being the firearm owner or not being a firearm owner need to start with the basics the fundamentals of the child I've taught my children very simply my daughter was able to say it when she was eighteen months old I would ask her what do you do when you see a gun and she would say stop don't touch tell an adult I see a fire or I see a gun. And that protected her. With. Going to other people's homes that's what I was concerned with it wasn't about the farms in my house it was about what she was going to see in the other world in the outside world She's nine now and to this day she knows that if she sees a gun. In someone else's home she's to stop don't touch and tell an adult that there's a gun over there or it may even benefit her she happens to see it on someone's person in a in a public setting she knows what it is she knows what it looks like and she knows that the most important thing is to recognize that other people recognize that it's there because most likely the per whoever she tells is going to do something with it responsibly put it away make sure that it's empty make sure it's out of sight that is where the biggest issue comes with children. And they're harming themselves or harming or being harmed by someone else with a gun as they typically pick up the gun they play with it they want to be action heroes and then they end up. There ends up being in a horrible accident a horrific situation so what I'm getting at is that edge sort of education that feels to me like Couper information as you've done you've drilled into your daughter's had just like don't get you know car with a stranger. Absolutely I don't think that I think where we have and I'm getting lots of bucks a bit but again I respect people who are who don't want farms in their home I do that is their right that's their privilege and I will defend it. And I respect people who want to have farms their home again not respect that it's their privilege. But that doesn't mean that. We should not be educating our children on the dangers of firearms and how to appropriately deal with the situation I'm not telling people who don't have firearms to go to the range with their kids and and learn how to use one and I'm not telling people who have farms to put them away and not bring them up we have to educate our children that these are very real tools that they are very real in our society in abundance and if you don't think that your child is going to come across people who have firearms in their home on their person or in society you have blinders on to the world. That's just the way the world is right now I'm not debating politics I'm not debating that we need to have stricter gun laws or that we don't have gone on talk about the now the way the world is now we have a healthy abundance of firearms in our day or in our in our national community nobody can debate dispute that. If you want to if you want it to change then I encourage you to do that if you don't want to change if you want there to be more of them go right ahead. But for the now we need to teach our kids that they're there and this is how you should be dealing with them when you go back to some of the material in your book and it's there's so much here so I realize you've got to probably. Touch on things rather than delve deeply into all of them. But with respect to targeted violence you mentioned it's rarely impulsive and it's usually very meticulously planned and rehearsed Yes we about well a lot of this training a lot of this these things that I've written about it started with my training with the Secret Service we were trained a lot of people I think that there's a misunderstanding that the the U.S. Secret Service is a an agency that is a trained professional bull it captures that they are there to to jump in front of the bullet and take one for the man and you know this seems to be a it's a very dramatic romanticized situation in pop culture and. I can assure you that the real mission of the your services to do everything that they can do to ensure that that impossible split second decision is never made the first place and that is proactive safety to a extreme degree to one that I would say no other protection organization in the world rivals and part of that is. Identifying threats to individuals who they protect such as the president and the vice president and they they have their own division a very very large aspect of the warden zation which is called a protective intelligence division and the protective intelligence division trains agents out the field to identify threatening conditions and threats that are being made and then to go and address the threats now when I say address people automatically think well you know that means I know what he's saying wink and a nod you know they're going to throw him in a. Inal it up in a stone cold steel cage room where they'll never see the guy get it all disappear Well this isn't this isn't Soviet Union this isn't North Korea or America and the United States Secret Service I can assure you does not act like that they this is all going to start sounding really familiar here you know if you've read my book you know wait a minute I I remember well as talk about this maybe the Secret Service is already doing this and they do what it is they go and meet somebody in though who might be making some concerning statements or threats to someone that they're protecting and they they work with their family and they work with their business and their corporation or organization or their schools to get that person help. That's where a lot of this comes from. Namely these individuals are focused on one target violent action they want to go and do harm over a long period of time they may have had a sudden mental breakdown they may have had changes in their life that's caused a nervous breakdown and now they're focusing their anger their animosity their anxious at someone who is very polarizing politics has a very polarizing nature to it and I don't know if you know but you know there's a lot of people who like our president right now you know in there and the president before that there were a lot of Putin like that president there were a lot of you don't like the president for that and so these people tend to take that that personal frustration that personal challenge that they're experiencing and they they they target it into a focal point which is someone who they perceived as not well liked anyway and that's how it goes you mention in your book that every single threat or implied threat even in the Internet age is followed up upon all the way with the Secret Service with the Secret Service Yes In matters of the first family or the people that are under their umbrella of protection if they are no. Fight of it which they should be if anyone ever sees a threat or reads a threat online or they hear it. In a in a setting somebody verbalize it they should absolutely notify the United States Secret Service local field office and I've had people who think that they have you know they they suddenly have a law degree because they watched a couple episodes of Boston Legal and they have tried to conflict what I've what I've said they try to go and hide behind the Constitution say well it's my first memory right it's my freedom of speech to say whatever I want well no it's not and I'll tell you why because First Amendment is a freedom of religion also and that doesn't mean you can go out and sacrifice people if your religion says that you have to go sacrifice virgins on an altar so the constitution does not protect you from from committing any crime and it is a federal crime to threaten the life of the president the first family and the people under the umbrella of the Secret Service and it's eighteen US C. eight seventy one. That's the federal purview that protects the president the first family from the threat to include direct threat such as I wish I want that individual to be killed. Veiled threat which means you're not directly saying it but you're implying it you can't even do that so what's an example let's say you fill in the blank with such and such directed toward President Gavigan draw a name out of this shirt so like a veiled threat would be like you know I'd be OK if somebody dropped a piano on President jabbing its head. I think we'd hear that a lot yeah and that that would be a veiled threat because we know what would happen to you it would harm you physically very much and so you can't do those things and we see a lot of that right now and I think a lot of times people just aren't I don't believe that they the vast majority people. Do you not have a genuine concept that they want to cause that person physical harm but they also are ignorant of the law what I can tell them is that if it is reported to the Secret Service they will investigate that and they will investigate you does that mean they will prosecute you now but do you really want to have to go and tell your boss or supervisor or your parents or teacher and then that you had an. Investigation against you. For threat against President States or the first family I could see where that would be problematic in your life and I've had I've had to go investigate many of them in my day I had to go and interact with many of these people on and they were mortified they didn't realize what they were doing at the time they were they acted emotionally in this day and age of Twitter and Facebook where people just pound something out on and on an e-mail real quick or you know I mean we see celebrities and politicians and news reporters do this on Twitter all the time they seem to make threats but they say things that they immediately are redact and then it but it's already out there in the magical Internet so you just have to be very careful with your caution which you do so that is very surprising to me that they all threat. Is against the law to certain people for certain people for the those individuals under the umbrella of the United States Secret Service the big one obviously is the president night States the first family the vice president those individuals who are under the umbrella of the United States Secret Service protection. Would would definitely be a big no no that would be very bad yet if you want a if there's a celebrity out there that you don't like or someone who was recently released from prison after being incarcerated you know and you put out there that you want to you would be OK with the piano falling on their head I don't know what crime if any you're going to commit or if you're going to. Call in the wrath of law enforcement but you're not going to get a call from the Secret Service OK so my neighbors are perfectly fine to continue being OK if a piano falls on me yes absolutely So if I the the other thing I say is that I think this is where people get confused is that this is mean that you can't tell them that you hate them you can't tell me not like them or that you disagree with them these kids are in their life you know there are lots of people out there who don't like President Trump right now and they make that very clear in a variety of ways and there were many people who didn't like President Obama and they made that clear in a variety of animated ways and they used a lot of colorful metaphors to express what they thought of those individuals that's not illegal that's fine you just can't threaten a life. That is it terrific clarification appreciate it Yeah absolutely and I think that's a miss I think a lot people misunderstand. Myself included in this Secret Service expense tremendous energy trying to observe an assassin act on any threat trying to prevent targeted by Yes but what it sounds like you're advocating is rather than just having these almost commonsense preventative measures just to protect anyone under the veil of the Secret Service protection let's teach everyone in the community to have their eyes and ears open and what to look for and be on guard for and how to act if they find something that's almost like saying hey let's take instead of just having smoke detectors at the White House we have a smoke detector in every single home that's exactly right that's exactly the point I am getting across back in the late ninety's the Secret Service commissioned a group of individuals to start what they called the exceptional case study project. The E.C.S. P. was a study of individuals going back as far as they could. Who are affiliated with assassination attempts of various kinds not just individuals who had assassinated political leaders but celebrities like. Mark David Chapman he had when he was assassinated. John Lennon they studied all of these individuals and I believe there were forty seven in the study going back to the one nine hundred fifty. And what they found was that these individuals showed similar style similar conditions similar behavioral conditions they didn't have physical similarities they didn't have gender similarities they didn't have. Cultural similarities they were came from a very affluent families they came from very not so well to do families it ran the gamut but their behavior. Excuse me I just said they didn't have gender similarities I thought they were in fact almost all male almost all male but they were not all male University and though they were not Squeaky Fromme for example attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford and she obviously is a female so not the vast majority were male but there were instances of females involved as well so the exceptional case study project what it showed was that there was behavioral indicators similarities that are in my book and those have extremely high in many cases probability that if you see someone who is committing or has a propensity for violent action that they are going to have these behaviors that they would have shown prior to the action a crime that's the red flag indicators that we talk about in the book the study goes back to the exceptional case study project the point of this is is what well that the target doesn't matter. Mark David Chapman. Went after John Lennon because John Lennon was a rock star icon he didn't do it because of his political affiliations or anything he did it because he was obsessed with with John Lennon Squeaky Fromme went after Gerald Ford because he was a president it states. Adam Lanza. Attacked Sandy Hook because it was a school that he went to and he was mentally unstable but they all had similar behavioral conditions they just went after different targets so the point I'm getting at is that target. Doesn't matter the behavioral indicators that we need to identify a head of time or what's important it doesn't matter whether they're targeting a school or a political official or a celebrity or their own family or themselves keep in mind suicide is a targeting it's a self targeting. What matters is that we identify the behaviors that could lead up to the violent action of some kind whether the action is against whatever the target is how closely correlated are suicide and all these other types of violence from what are what I recall with my writing the suicide level is higher with females males tend to. Typically will act out against another target females will act internally they'll internalize it and attack themselves similar indicators females will. Turn it on themselves which I think is explains why you don't see as many females as. Attacking or assassinating or harming locations they're harming themselves or harming their person Amanda Todd comes to mind rather quickly in a Todd was a victim of cyber bullying for years she took a cyber cyber abuse from an into. They they recently captured overseas he was in the western eastern block but the poor girl had developed a relationship a friendship with this individual online through a chat net and he had when she was. Only seven shoes she was fourteen years old he had asked her to expose herself so she showed. This individual online her breasts and he captured the photos capture the images and then began filtering through some of her social networks that she had allowed him to be privy to because they were friends you know and so he was able to quickly understand where she went to school who were friends were and she started. Trying to blackmail or and say you know if you didn't if you don't see any more images or do more heinous things online then. I'm going to send people these images and. She didn't comply and that's exactly what he did. And it led to bullying in real life it led to her being you know children can be very cold when they want to be and. She became isolated secluded. She she ended up killing herself. And I believe she was fifteen years old when she died that's the quick version of man to Todd but before she she ended up killing herself she made a You Tube video it's actually of. I don't call it a popular You Tube video but it's one that is well known in that community and. You can watch it and she's it's a video of her and she's made flashcards which is a cry for help and she wrote on that show flashcards Help me somebody please and this you know she can escape it her parents moved several times moved her different schools where she went the Internet was there and it research related and she can get away from it for you or I or is an adult we probably wouldn't even give a second thought for a young girl who's fourteen years old who's. At the at a very critical part of her life where her her ego is is being formed and popularity is so crucial and being accepted in amongst other females and all of it all of it and she was isolated and outcast for a simple mistake for what a young girl would. Any of us would have done you know probably you know been stupid just a stupid little thing online and ultimately she just couldn't handle it anymore and I personally I I believe that when she saw her video go viral which it did and went very quickly you know so many people sympathized and. Nothing changed you know when you see that millions of people hear your cry for help and you see no change of millions of people can't hope you them what. Would you have left you know you think that this is how your whole life going to be for us your life you know I think that's what drove her in the end the really do and that's sad it's tragic but anyway that's an example of a female dealing with behavior or sudden change negative things things happening in her life and she didn't gotten her target wasn't anybody else she didn't go out looking to go attack a school full of the people who are bullying her. She went and took it out on herself. It's interesting to me that you've gone through countless situations where you've got you've dealt with probably terrible people planning to do terrible things you've obviously read zillions of pages of studies and so you've got all this knowledge but then when it comes down to an individual case a person you don't even know I hear in your voice and I see on your face once again how deeply this affects you. I think that's fatherhood and there as a parent I think that's what it is I. I don't know if. It's. I think it's worth a lot of a change for me and I will tell you that I wrote the city of the book with. Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook was that was it for me that. I didn't know to be there I don't know anybody there I haven't interacted met anyone there I. I just know that my daughter was the age of some of those kids and. And one thing that I think a lot of people tend to forget about Sandy Hook which we all want to forget I get it is. The adults who died the teachers and I remember reading that there was a one of the teachers was found cradling one of. The teachers found cradling one of the kids. That's how they found her and it's horrible you know it's such a horrible situation and I just and I don't know why it affected me like that I think. I just I just I don't know I don't know if I would have felt the same way before as a father but. I just don't want to see it happen again. I don't want to see it ever happen again nobody does but I don't I really don't want to see it ever having I mean like I want to really like about it my I hope other people do too you know and I don't think it takes a lot if we have more people to get involved you know and get involved with more proactive interventions and that concludes the first part of our interview with author and former U.S. Secret Service agent Jason Wow So to hear the second part of that interview tune into the next episode of Inside the law where Jason talks about how schools and businesses are playing the odds instead of proactively. Haring to avoid the next instance of mass violence I think they play the odds there's. One hundred forty four thousand public schools. In America and one ninety thousand private schools in America and I think they play the odds that statistically it's going to happen at their place in an office of corporations I look around they go well. Statistically it's infinitesimally small sums going to happen here but they're willing to do enough to have lockdown drills. To keep track of all our episodes and see the show notes and links visit our website inside the Law dot co that's insidethelaw dot Co. Thanks for listening and thanks again to our wonderful guest Jason Wells.
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