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Protective security cases: An examination of characteristics related to multiple approach contact behavior towards the U.S. Congress

Jerome Vincent Baumgartner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The U.S. Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section (TAS) performs relevant investigative and risk assessment activity for all incidents of a threatening or suspicious nature toward members of the U.S. Congress, their families, staffs, and visitors. This paper reviews literature on risk assessment, factors predictive of violence, and specific areas of research regarding targeted violence incidents and perpetrators which are relevant to assessing and understanding cases involving the protection of U.S. Congressional figures. Considering incidents of approach contact toward the target(s) as situations of acute risk for physical aggression, this project examines differences in prior offense behavior and contact behavior characteristics of subjects in U.S. Congressional security cases from TAS investigative files involving either multiple, single, or no incidents of approach behavior. Results from univariate and multivariate analyses revealed that multiple approach cases involved more subjects who exhibited contact behaviors expressing: psychotic/delusional symptomatology, target dispersion, help-seeking thematic content, no use of threat language, and histories of contact with federal agencies for harassment behavior and for prior offense charges. Meanwhile, elevated levels of physically threatening and aggressive contact behaviors were significantly related to greater criminal offense histories. Subsequent analyses discovered that while psychotic/delusional symptomatology was not associated with more physically aggressive behavior among the full sample of security cases, such symptomatology was related to more physically aggressive behavior when considering only those cases which involve approach contact. Findings suggested that the same set of relationships between contact behavior characteristics and both level and intensity of approach were generally only relevant among subjects expressing psychotic/delusional symptomatology. Finally, the use of threat language was related directly to elevated physically threatening and aggressive behavior among subjects expressing psychotic/delusional symptomatology. Implications of findings for protective security case assessments are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Political Science, General|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Baumgartner, Jerome Vincent, "Protective security cases: An examination of characteristics related to multiple approach contact behavior towards the U.S. Congress" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3104604.