Handbook of Violence Risk Assessment

By Randy K. Otto and Kevin S. Douglas; Reviewed by Jack F. Dowling, CPP, PSP

***** Handbook of Violence Risk Assessment. Randy K. Otto and Kevin S. Douglas, editors; published by Taylor & Francis Group/Routledge,; 326 pages; $95.

This text is one of a series, and the stated goal is “to improve the quality of health care services in forensic settings.” Although well written and current, the book delves deep into psychology, likely too deep for the typical security practitioner.

The book focuses on improving assessment and management of violence risk through behavioral research and comparison of analytical tools. Although it emphasizes the clinical side of managing violent behavior, the principles are relevant to the security profession.

For those interested in the domestic-related potential for workplace violence, the chapter on the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA) addresses methods for identifying probable offenders to prevent or reduce the potential for violence in these situations. The case study in this section clearly demonstrates the holistic approach to this risk assessment method by using the courts, mental health professionals, and victim safety strategies. The authors state that the SARA instrument appears to be very promising as a reliable, valid, and practical procedure.

At the end of the text, the editors provide a summary of problems with the current research and recommendations for future research to further refine the risk assessment process. Among other concerns, they cite a lack of training for the risk raters and doubts about the validity of follow-up studies. One of the main recommendations: use of more innovative research to enhance the validity of the findings for the sexual-violence risk assessment methodologies.

The book concludes with an extensive and comprehensive author and subject index, allowing the reader to quickly locate the exact page or pages for any referenced person or topic. Additionally, each chapter is followed by a lengthy and detailed list of resources used in its contents.

Without a strong background in psychology, this handbook may be difficult to comprehend, because much of the discussion is technical and methodology based. The text would be more beneficial for a psychologist or psychiatrist than someone involved in day-to-day security management and administration.

Reviewer: Jack F. Dowling, CPP, PSP, is president of JD Security Consultants, LLC, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and teaches in the University of Phoenix’s Criminal Justice Administration Program. He is a member of ASIS International’s Commercial Real Estate Council, Physical Asset Protection Standards Committee, and Private Security Company Operations Standards Committee, and he previously served on its Facilities Physical Security Measures Guideline Committee.




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