Category Archives: Criminal Justice

Penn State: Analysis of Crisis Communications

On November 5, 2011, Jerry Sandusky, former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach, was arrested on a number of counts of sexual assault on a minor. The arrest stems from incidents relating to The Second Mile charity, founded by Sandusky, and its association with Pennsylvania State University over the course of 15 years (Garcia, 2011; “Sandusky,” 2011). Two days later, the Pennsylvania State University athletic director, Tim Curley, and senior vice president for finance and business, Gary Schultz, surrendered to police to answer charges for failing to notify authorities for suspicions of sexual abuse of a minor (“Officials,” 2011; “Sandusky,” 2011). In two more days, Joe Paterno, head coach of the Pennsylvania State University football program, resigned over the controversy surrounding the university and its football program (Garcia, 2011; “Sandusky,” 2011). Within days of the arrests (and, before all the facts are known), the university was being severely criticized in the media (Zinser, 2011). This public relations nightmare is an example of how leveraging a crisis communication plan is important in communicating with the public.

Trivitt and Yann (2011) present this case as a reminder that crisis managers cannot fix every problem: “we think it’s important that, as a profession, we don’t overreach and try to uphold our work as the savior for every societal tragedy and crisis. Doing so makes us look opportunistic and foolish considering the gravity of the situation” (para. 13). In the case of Pennsylvania State University, there were a number of glaring failures to report the assaults to the authorities. Still, Sandusky was allowed to have unsupervised interaction with these adolescent boys until an investigation was launched in 2009 after one of the victims notified the authorities (“Sandusky,” 2011). Pennsylvania State University authorities should have reported the accusations to the proper authorities and released a statement to the media as soon as they were made aware, saving the administration from this crisis (Sudhaman & Holmes, 2012). The perception, however, is that there was a cover-up of moral corruption. There were a number of moral requirements that university representatives failed to acknowledge over the past years, and the character and esteem of the school will suffer for it.

Immediately after the revelation of these transgressions, the Pennsylvania State University administration clambered to make the proper attempts towards repairing the school’s suffering reputation, including donating $1.5-million of profits received from the renowned football program to sex crimes advocacy projects, discontinuing the school newspaper’s sex column, and providing a town hall- type venue where concerned students could present their questions and concerns directly to school officials (Sauer, 2011). Ultimately, these steps are proper; however, the only means of reclaiming and recapturing the admirable reputation that Pennsylvania State University once held is time and requires purging those administrators who appear sullied by this controversy. This does not, however, mean that Pennsylvania State University is languishing. According to Reuters (Shade, 2011), applications to attend Pennsylvania State University have increased in the last year, and the current school administration, as well as alumni, are uniting to restore the trust between the school and students.

Further, Singer (2011), a crisis communications and reputation management specialist, outlines the steps necessary for the school to truly enhance its brand. Singer highlights cleaning the slate by terminating any employees explicitly related to or having perpetuated the crisis, creating a team-centric leadership culture by restraining the political power of any one person within the school (especially the lead coach), and living the values that are proffered by the school (e.g. “Success With Honor”). If the crisis is handled appropriately from this point forward, the school’s reputation will be judged not the crisis itself.


Coombs (2012), Fearn-Banks, (2011), and Hendrix and Hayes (2010) all agree that crises are unexpected events that are difficult to anticipate; however, the communications focus should not be placed on specific problems that have a low probability of materializing but to have broad and general preparations in place to address unanticipated concerns as they arise.

Hendrix and Hayes (2010) provides an emergency checklist that organizations could adopt to better prepare to respond rapidly to a crisis. Analyzing the Pennsylvania State University response in retrospect by applying the concepts within this checklist will show how poorly prepared the administration was in responding to this crisis. What is glaring in the analysis is that the administration was on the defensive throughout the entire crisis. It seems that they were either unwilling or unable to get in front of the story. Hendrix and Hayes, as well as Coombs (2012) recommends utilizing a central resource as a clearinghouse to disseminate information to and from external publics. This communications center could also serve as an incident knowledge-base for those internal publics requiring more information. Further, preparation, again, is explicitly stated and is a requirement to quickly respond to media inquiries within the hour recommended. Although it is unclear if Pennsylvania State University incorporated a public information center, it was clearly not effective if it was, indeed, instituted.

Another issue that was contentious throughout the crisis and gave the appearance of a cover-up was the lack of full disclosure on the part of the university. It is understandable that the administration might have been caught off guard; however, this is no excuse to appear defensive and largely silent.

The Pennsylvania State University administration later contracted with a public relations firm to restore the reputation of the university. This should have been done much earlier.


Coombs, W. T. (2012). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning managing, and responding (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fearn-Banks, K. (2011). Crisis communications: a casebook approach (4th ed). New York, NY: Routledge.

Garcia, T. (2011, November 9). Paterno announces retirement, says Penn State has bigger issues to address. PRNewser. Retrieved from

Hendrix, J. A. & Hayes, D. C. (2010). Public relations cases (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Officials seeking alleged abuse victims. (2011, November 9). Retrieved from

Sandusky, Penn State case timeline. (2011, November 9). Retrieved from

Sauer, A. (2011, December 1). Penn State bogs down in PR crisis, but a turnaround already showing. brandchannel. Retrieved from 12/01/Penn-State-Bogs-Down-In-PR-Crisis-120111.aspx

Shade, M. (2011, December 1). Penn State officials say applications up despite scandal. Reuters. Retrieved from

Singer, J. (2011, December 7). The Penn State scandal: crisis as opportunity. The Business of College Sports. Retrieved from

Sudhaman, A. & Holmes, P. (2012, January 25). The top 10 crises Of 2011. The Holmes Report. Retrieved from

Trivitt, K. & Yann A. (2011, November 9). Public relations won’t fix Penn State’s crisis. PRSay. Retrieved from

Zinser, L. (2011, November 9). Memo to Penn State: Ignoring a scandal doesn’t make it go away. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Crisis Communications: Imperial Sugar Case Study

At approximately 7:15 pm, on February 7, 2008, a large explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery rocked the area of Port Wentworth, Georgia, killing 14 people and injuring 36, and although, the incident was found to be the fault of Imperial Sugar, this discussion will focus on the crisis communications and public relations surrounding the event (Bauerlein, 2010; U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2009). According to a report from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA; 2009), although John Sheptor was appointed Chief Executive Officer merely nine days earlier and did not enjoy the support of a crisis communications team, he was thrust into the spotlight having to deal with this particular crisis.

According to a local television station, the people of Savannah and Port Wentworth responded admirably at the first hint of trouble (“Sugar refinery explosion,” n.d.). This is more of a testament to the community than to Imperial Sugar; however, it promotes a sense of good-will and community trust that Imperial Sugar was able to leverage. Almost immediately, Sheptor, in conjunction with Imperial Sugar partner Edelman, was holding regular news conferences, disseminating press releases, and correcting the record. The only delay is seemingly the time required to work with first responders and investigators (“4 found dead,” 2008; PRSA, 2009; U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 2009). According to the PRSA (2009), Sheptor and Edelman immediately instituted a program to communicate to “employees, stakeholders, investors, elected officials and the media, and to engage the public in helping the company support the Imperial Sugar employee family” (p. 1).

As the crisis wound down to the recovery phase, it is important to note, as Chapman (2008) chronicles, that all displaced employees were still being paid by Imperial Sugar. All employees that were able were used to help in the clean-up efforts and ultimately maintained their employment status with Imperial Sugar. Within a week of the incident, Sheptor reported that the company was looking to rebuild and, in just over two month’s time, the decision to rebuild was official (Securities and Exchange Commission, 2008).

Sheptor leveraged Edelman’s communication philosophies which allowed communications to be prioritized, correct, honest, and abundant. While also providing much needed information to employees and families of missing employees, especially, this mode of communication also allowed Edelman, and Imperial Sugar, to cultivate media relations that will benefit them in the future.


4 found dead in Ga. sugar refinery blast. (2008, February 8). Associated Press. Retrieved from

Bauerlein, V. (2010, July 8). Imperial Sugar to pay fines in deadly Georgia explosion case. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

Chapman, D. (2008, April 13). Sugar refinery near Savannah determined to rebuild. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from

Public Relations Society of America. (2009). Crystallizing a response to a crisis (Product # 6BW-0911A05).

Securities and Exchange Commission. (2008, April 17). Current report: Imperial Sugar Company (Form 8-K). Washington, D.C.: Author.

Sugar refinery explosion (Collection of news reports). (n.d.) WTOC. Retrieved from

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. (2009, September). Investigation report: sugar dust explosion and fire (Report No. 2008-05-I-GA). Retrieved from

Grant Sources: Proposing a New Treatment Program

As grant funding is one of the largest sources of state revenue, it would be remiss for any program administrator facing financial difficulty to not leverage these available funds towards their program (Menifield, 2009). With this in mind, I will create a fictional program and discuss many of the points worthy of mention when completing a grant proposal for such a program, as presented by Markin (2006). The fictional program will provide an opportunity for the criminal justice system to intervene with young offenders during enrollment in the probation program to prevent recidivism.

The Proposal

Statement of the Problem

The juvenile recidivism rate in the State of Connecticut is approximately 33-36% (University of New Haven, 2010). Though the recidivism rate is not counted through the transition from juvenile to adult, it is widely believed that most adult offenders have committed offenses as juveniles (Burnette, 2004). According to Stone (2010), interdicting juvenile offenders at the time of first offense reduces the overall risk of recidivism.

Goals, Objectives, and Performance Measures

Goals of this program should be directly measurable. For one, the immediately obvious goal for this program would be a measurable reduction in juvenile recidivism. Objectives could be relative to benchmarks within the program to show periodic compliance, such as the absence of drug use by participants and evaluation of test scores. Another goal of this program could reduce first adult offenses by juvenile offenders.

Program Design

The development of this juvenile offender outreach program takes into consideration three different evidence-based programs that show promising reductions in juvenile recidivism. The first program is a 12-step program, called Moral Reconation Therapy ® (MRT). According to Burnette et al. (2004), MRT involves reprogramming of the participants’ sense of self, sense of others, attitudes towards risk-taking, and provides a foundation of support and improved moral reasoning. MRT is credited at reducing relative recidivism by 39-60%.

The second program is a mentor program that can be easily integrated with MRT. The mentor component focuses on the importance of vocation and work ethic (Stone, 2009). The vocational mentor program has shown to reduce recidivism by 50-65%.

The third program, a restorative justice mediation program that allows “offenders … to brainstorm with the mediator and the victim on how best to make reparations” (University of New Haven, 2010, para. 3). UNH Associate Professor and Director of the Legal Studies Program Donna Decker Morris (as cited in University of New Haven, 2010) advocates this program and credits the program with 40-45% reductions in recidivism rates.
By integrating all three programs into a single cohesive approach, recidivism rates could be reduced by as much as 90-95%; however, this is an estimate and requires close and frequent assessment.

Organization & Management

Though it is beyond the scope of this fictional presentation, Markin (2006) shows the importance of providing the names and credentials of the professionals who will be working within the program.


The primary source of funding for programs such as this is grant funding (Menifield, 2009). One grant opportunity, Serving Juvenile Offenders in High-Poverty, High-Crime Communities (SGA-DFA-PY-11-09; U.S. Department of Labor, 2012), focuses on improving the long-term labor market prospects for youths aged 14 and above. This grant is focused towards high-crime, high-poverty areas and, therefore, provides for the opportunity for high impact.

As the program focuses on impacting juveniles and increasing their focus towards vocational contributions towards society and their community, this grant opportunity is appropriate to fund this program.


Whether in hard times or easy times, we live in communities and want to contribute to the improvement of society, though most of us do this passively. A program such as the one outlined above can have significant effects at improving society by reducing crime, removing first-time offenders from the criminal justice system, and increasing employability of those offenders thereby decreasing the overall unemployment rate. Programs such as these can have far reaching and immeasurable effects on each member of the community.

Government realizes that it is highly ineffective at controlling local programs and provides grants to states and localities, as well as not-for-profit organizations, to help administer programs that it feels would be beneficial to society as a whole. This process assists states and localities by positively impacting directly the lives of those living within the community.


Burnette, K. D., Swan, E. S., Robinson, K. D., Woods-Robinson, M., Robinson, K. D., & Little, G. L. (2004). Treating youthful offenders with Moral Reconation Therapy®: a recidivism and pre- posttest analysis. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Review, 3, 14-15. Retrieved from

Markin, K. (2006, September). How to write a proposal for an outreach grant. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(4), C1, C4.

Menifield, C. E. (2009). The basics of public budgeting and financial management: a handbook for academics and practitioners. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Stone, K. (2009). Vocational mentoring program for youth [Grant proposal]. Retrieved from

University of New Haven. (2010, January 12). Breaking the cycle of juvenile crime: UNH study shows mediation effective in reducing juvenile recidivism. Retrieved from

U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. (2012, April 4). ETA grants. Retrieved from

Budget Forecasting Models

Forecasting, according to Menifield (2009), is an important component of budget preparation and analysis. Using the Putnam police department (Putnam, CT) as an example, I will show how forecasting can benefit the budget process.

The Putnam police department is a small local department that relies heavily on public support. In order to forecast the economic condition that provide insight to the budgetary needs of the department, I would normally suggest using simple time-series forecast model. Due to the wavering economy over the last few years, however, I would start to consider using a multiple regression model that could take into account decreases in property taxes, real inflation, and the poor business environment for many of the small businesses that contribute a sizable portion of the tax base (Spencer, 2009). Menifield (2009) suggests that many localities can get by using the simpler, non-multivariate analysis, though as I point out, economic trends should be considered, lately.

The Putnam police department has annual purchases very typical of other similar sized departments and the single capital program (for the K-9 division) is being paid for by grants and donations. It is these donations that promote the need for additional fiscal responsibility; the public may be less willing in the future to offset major purchases through donations if property taxes rise significantly.


Menifield, C. E. (2009). The basics of public budgeting and financial management: a handbook for academics and practitioners. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Spencer, M. (2009, January 5). Current economic situation vs. the Great Depression: Striking comparisons with the current economic situation to the Great Depression. Retrieved from

The Hiring Process & Social Media

Social media has blossomed in the past few years beyond what many could have imagined. Today, it seems that many people engage others on the internet and social media without regard to their own personal privacy. Additionally, according to Jones and Behling (2010), privacy settings within social media applications tend to be complex, which inhibits their effective use by privacy-minded users. The result is an open and rich source of personal data, the problem of which is context.

I view social media as personal advertising where, unless specifically stated in the terms of service, the information posted by others is considered to have entered the public domain; others may view social media in the light of property rights where, although many people might not lock their front door, the invitation to invade the space is not assumed (Rosen, 2009). Regardless of personal views, information seekers need to be mindful of three things: 1) the terms of service for using the application resources, 2) the privacy policy in effect for using the application resources, and 3) the context of entries and the audience each entry is meant to reach (Jones & Behling, 2010; Rosen, 2009). Considering that the personal data made available on social media applications is not typical of allowable employment interview scenarios, employers need to be mindful that searching out this information may lead to unethical and illegal hiring practices (Fallon & McConnell, 2007; Jones & Behling, 2010; Rosen, 2009). Still, employers use social media to further vet applicants (Jones & Behling, 2010). Another consideration along similar lines is the use of generic web-based searches that could uncover similar information (Rosen, 2009).

In the case study provided by Coutu (2007), Virginia performed an internet search on Mimi and know suffers the problem that one cannot unknow knowledge. Additionally, Virginia know feels ethically compelled to share this information with Fred, the CEO. While this information would not be pertinent in the hiring process of a line employee, staff employees require more scrutiny, especially those that are being vetted for significant leadership positions. Rosen (2009) states, “employers do have broader discretion if such behavior would damage a company, hurt business interests, or be inconsistent with business needs” (para. 15). With this in mind, I tend to consider the paradigm of privacy practices when confronted with public officials and celebrities. A public head of a company or division might not have the same expectations of privacy afforded to a typical job applicant, but this would be a question for lawyers, as Mimi alludes to in the case study.

Basing the decision to investigate Mimi via Google on the general welfare of the organization, I would recommend allowing Mimi to defend her position in order to minimize bias and assumption. Two questions could be asked of Mimi that may allow her to mitigate concerns stemming from the search: 1) Regardless of any past pretenses, do you feel that you can represent this company appropriately if faced with issues regarding international politics? 2) Do you have any concerns about operating effectively within a political environment, such as China? Asking these questions, however, assume that the legal ramifications have been assessed and that they have been deemed appropriate for these particular circumstances. Ultimately, however, the decision lies with Fred to formulate a team that he feels can further the goals of the organization. He may consider the search results inconsequential and hire Mimi regardless of these findings, which would also be appropriate.


Coutu, D. (2007). We Googled you. Harvard Business Review, 85(6), 37-41.

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Jones, C. & Behling, S. (2010). Uncharted waters: Using social networks in hiring decisions. Issues in Information Systems, 11(1), 589-595.

Rosen, L. (2009, September 15). Caution! – Using search engines, MySpace or Facebook for hiring decisions may be hazardous to your business. Retrieved from

Impact of Technology: Social Media and Cyberbullying

The advent of the internet and social media allows like minded people to easily seek each other out and share their ideas. As I see a growing trend towards anti-sematism not unlike that of the 1930’s, I begin to draw parallels to that time and imagine sociopolitical paths of the likes we never want to tread. It was for this reason and others that I made a simple post on Facebook and Twitter reading “I support Israel.” This proclamation was made to let my Jewish friends know in no uncertain terms that I would never sway towards anti-Jewish sentiment, and it also made my other friends aware that I would not support them if they should harbor such feelings. There is inherent freedom in the idea of free-flowing information; however, this freedom also comes with responsibility. The same technology that promotes freedom also simplifies efforts to conspire against ideas, governments, and sometimes individuals. It is this conspiracy against individuals that has piqued my interest. The use of the internet (and, other technology, such as cell phones) to conspire against individuals can be seen in the act of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying, according to Bill Belsey, the award winning author of the website “involves the use of information and communication technologies such as email, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others” (as cited in Li, 2007, p. 1779). Li (2010) goes further to include “exclusion” to this list. Exclusion is the specific and intentional exclusion of an individual from an online group. Further, Li (2007) hypothesizes that internet users are socially isolated and inept. This is certainly not the case. Li also discusses demographic differences in both victims and bullies, but the evidence from other studies prove confounding to any hypothesis regarding specific demographics (Schneider et al., 2011; Slonje & Smith, 2008; Smith et al., 2008; Smith, Mahdavi, Carvalho, & Tippett, 2006). Children do not seem either savvy enough or willing enough to block these communications as they happen (Smith et al., 2008). Further, children and adolescents are not emotionally stable enough to make this type of rational decision when confronted with cyberbullying; however, they also do not seem prepared to become emotionally stable enough to deal with typical adolescent musings when they become persistent, such as rumors posted to a website.

There is a real problem with social media and cyberbullying, but we need to call it as it is: bullying. By attaching the prefix cyber- to the act, we acknowledge the sophistication needed to perpetrate this type of bullying, which might egotize the bully. Most communities respond to cyberbullying by focusing on the technology used to perpetrate the bullying; however, it is more important to focus on the motivations and the social intolerances involved in bullying in general. By losing sight of the cause and focusing on the vehicle, no one will be able to overcome this problem, which is inherent, though sometimes magnified, in normal social adjustment and development of children and adolescents. Communities that wish to address cyberbullying would do well to educate the students about social responsibility, the rights and responsibilities of civic duty, and the different levels of appropriateness of various forms of communication.


Li, Q. (2007). New bottle but old wine: A research of cyberbullying in schools. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(4), 1777-1791. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.10.005

Li, Q. (2010). Cyberbullying in high schools: A study of students’ behaviors and beliefs about this new phenomenon. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 19(4), 372-392. doi:10.1080/10926771003788979

Schneider, S. K., O’Donnell, L., Stueve, A., & Coulter, R. W. S. (2011). Cyberbullying, school bullying, and psychological distress: A regional census of high school students. American Journal of Public Health. Advance online publication. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300308

Slonje, R. & Smith, P. K. (2008). Cyberbullying: Another main type of bullying? Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49(2), 147–154. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00611.x

Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 376–385. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01846.x

Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., & Tippett, N. (2006, July). An investigation into cyberbullying, its forms, awareness and impact, and the relationship between age and gender in cyberbullying (Report to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Brief No. RBX03-06). Retrieved from

Coordinated Community Response to Special Populations

Being a victim of crime, especially a crime of a violent nature, one suddenly finds his or her self in a state of personal emergency that requires finely developed coping mechanisms in order to rationalize the situation. In addition to the need of a sound mind, a sound body is required in order to defend one’s self from harm in all but the most benign cases (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). The elderly population is characterized as having the predisposition of declining mental acuity as well as declining health and increasing frailty, as many of the elderly have disabilities related to their advanced development (Heisler, 2007). It could be stated that the elderly make for the perfect victim. However valid this statement may or may not be, it stands to reason that the elderly are at risk for being taken advantage of, at risk of injury from others, and at risk for both emotional and physical decline due to unwarranted stress (Heisler, 2007).

Elder abuse, which includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, financial and material exploitation, neglect, and abandonment, “is being recognized as a … complex societal problem” (Heisler, 2007, p. 161). Heisler (2007) states that “in physical abuse cases, men are usually the abusers” (p. 169), yet it stated that men only account for 53% of the abuse, which is much closer to ‘half’ than ‘usually’, so it seems that both men and women are just as likely to abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse (as cited in Heisler, 2007) also describes “self-neglect” as a type of abuse; however, this appears to fall under neglect and abandonment. Elder self-neglect should not be treated as a crime but should be addressed with the elder’s emotional and psychological well-being in mind.

The elderly are a vulnerable population due to their complex and specific needs and tend not to report abuse for fear of losing their support structure and further undermining their independence. According to Acierno et al. (2010), Podnieks (as cited in Heisler, 2007) and Wolf (as cited in Heisler, 2007), the one-year prevalence of elder abuse appears to fall between 4-5.6%, though the exact numbers have been difficult to quantify. It is this difficulty in identifying the abuse accurately that creates difficulty in responding to the crime. It is for this reason that every state and Washington, D.C., has enacted legislation that mandates the reporting of suspected elderly abuse by certain authorities (e.g. doctors, nurses, police, EMS, social workers, et al.).

In order to further develop coordinated community responses to elderly abuse, we must further understand the prevalence and intricacies of the abuse and its particular effects on the victims. It is imperative to bolster social support with prevention initiatives in order to address the prevalence of elder abuse in all of its forms.

Acierno, R., Hernandez, M. A., Amstadter, A. B., Resnick, H. S., Steve, K., Muzzy, W., & Kilpatrick, D. G. (2010). Prevalence and correlates of emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse and potential neglect in the United States: The national elder mistreatment study. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 292-297. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.163089

Heisler, C. J. (2007). Elder abuse. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 161-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Wall Street Bombing of 1920: Terrorism and its Victims

In my search of a terrorist act, I hoped to find an example that was both pertinent in history and applicable today. With the growing “Occupy Wall Street” movement of anarchists, communists, socialists, and other anti-capitalists focusing their attention on the “evils” of Wall Street bankers, I am reminded of a similar set of circumstances that occurred in 1920 as the same groups of anti-capitalists focused themselves on Wall Street and for much the same reason. Unfortunately, the 1920’s protest resulted in the most fatal act of terrorism on U.S. soil at the time. According to Gage (2001), Kengor (2011), and the New York Times (“Explosives,” 1920; “Havoc,” 1920), on September 16, 1920, a horse-drawn carriage was driven down Wall Street and parked in front of the offices of J. P. Morgan bank. A few minutes later, a large explosion occurred killing 38 people and injuring 400 others. The scars of this attack, attributed to Italian Galleanist anarchists, can still be seen today as pockmarks in some of the local buildings.

“It would seem at times as if the whole world is one madhouse” (as cited in Gage, 2001, para. 12). This quote from the New York Call seems to summarize terrorism as it occurs on U.S. soil. However, those who are directly affected might have a more acute perception of the ordeal. By definition, terrorism instills terror, an acute fear reaction associated with daily living, and provides for more intense and prolonged psychological effects, such as insecurity, social disruption, anger, uncertainty, and loss of control, compared to disasters of other etiologies (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). However, according to DiMaggio and Galea (2007), most of the population appears to cope appropriately after such an event. When focusing on at-risk groups that might fail to cope, the literature describes females, those with previous psychiatry, and those directly involved, whether victim or rescuer, to be more apt to progress from a lesser acute stress phase to a more significant post-traumatic stress disorder. Though DiMaggio and Galea promote these as potentially useful triage markers, they admit that “many questions remain to be answered about how best to utilize health care resources in response to terrorism” (p. 157).

As much as I wish not to consider the possibility of another bombing on Wall Street this year or next, I know that it remains a real possibility. I am encouraged in the growth of victim awareness and crisis intervention that has occurred over the last few decades that might blunt the psychological effects of another terrorist event.


DiMaggio, C. & Galea, S. (2007). The mental health and behavioral consequences of terrorism. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 147-160). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Explosive stores all accounted for. (1920, September 17). The New York Times, pp. 1, 3. Retrieved from

Gage, B. (2001, September 17). The first Wall Street bomb. History News Service. Retrieved from

Havoc wrought in Morgan offices. (1920, September 17). The New York Times, pp. 1, 4. Retrieved from

Kengor, P. G. (2011, November 8). In 1920, U.S. saw the carnage of class warfare. USAToday. Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University.

Coordinated Community Response – Terrorism, Hate Crimes

In a previous paper, I describe a coordinated community response to individual crime; however, when considering terrorism and, to some degree, hate crimes, we need to understand the more comprehensive needs of effected communities more so than the individual, yet, we still need to address individual needs (Schadone, 2011). According to a U.S. Department of Justice (2000) report on responding to victim needs after a terror event, comprehensive victim assistance centers should be centralized for ease of identification and resource management. This report acknowledges victims, family, and responders as potential users of victim assistance resources.

Coordinated community response programs should also be comprehensive and modular in order to provide services during normal day-to-day operations and to be able to coordinate for larger undertakings, such as those in the wake of large-scale emergencies. The U.S. Department of Justice (2000) report recommends being mindful of victim rights and including victim services representatives in planning, ensuring timely death notifications to family of the deceased, creating centralized centers to provide information, crisis counseling, and privacy, planning for transitioning short-term mental health counseling to long-term mental health care, streamlining victim compensation programs, organizing committees to ensure that unmet needs are identified with provisions of responding to these needs are created, creating an emergency fund for immediate payment for resources or victim compensation when other directed funds are inadequate or delayed, and creating processes for recruiting and preparing volunteers to assist in response efforts.

According to Roberts and Yeager (2009), crisis intervention counselors should take some specific steps in counseling individual victims of large-scale events. Initially, triage and remove victims from the scene as soon as possible to limit exposure to the aftermath of the event, considering the breadth of possible injuries and always taking into account the potential for responders’ needs following their exposure. Next, victims should be assessed medically to ensure that all physical health needs are identified and addressed, including their level of responsiveness, both in general and in light of the recent trauma. At this phase of the response, crisis counselors could assist other responders by obtaining demographic information (i.e. name, address, phone numbers, next of kin, medical history, current medications, and allergies) of victims being prepared for treatment and transport. Talking to and reassuring victims in a general sense would also be helpful by connecting to the victim on a personal level and establishing a rapport, acknowledging the victim’s concerns, and grounding the individual while ensuring that he or she knows that he or she is now safe. Further into the response, provide directed support to victims while allowing them to express their ordeals while providing them opportunities to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Some may benefit by providing assistance to other victims while others may require lengthy counseling sessions in order to move forward.

Any coordinated community response for large-scale incidents need to focus on health and safety, mental health, financial health, and the preservation of rights during the response. These coordinated community response programs should be comprehensive and modular while both giving and receiving assistance to and from state and federal victim assistance programs that might also be effective during the immediate aftermath of the event.

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Schadone, M. (2011, November 6). Coordinated community response to crime. Unpublished Manuscript. Walden University, Minneapolis, MN.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. (2010, October). Responding to terrorism victims: Oklahoma City and beyond. Retrieved from ovc/publications/infores/respterrorism/welcome.html

Coordinated Community Response to Crime

Victims, especially those that find difficulty in coping, have similar needs and concerns independent of the type of crime committed against them. Victims in need share the same litany of psychological responses to crisis, such as fright, helplessness, nervousness, insecurity, anger, et al. (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). All victims of crime could potentially benefit from community support in the form of coordinated community response teams (CCRTs; Guo, Biegel, Johnsen, & Dyches, 2001; Roberts & Yeager, 2009).

A Google Scholar search of the terms coordinated community response -domestic -violence revealed a dearth of information regarding CCRTs, aside from those dedicated to domestic violence (which yielded a large portion of the result when the Google Scholar search term was limited to coordinated community response). As I consider the possibilities of an effective CCRT dedicated to a crime other than domestic violence, which enjoys an apparent steady and potent growth in activism, I envision a CCRT that is prepared to intervene for victims of crime in general.

In many communities, today, an effort is ongoing to develop Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs. The aim of this effort, headed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is to prepare and train a broad citizen base to help respond to and aid victims of disasters when emergency services are overwhelmed, either by a multiple-seated disaster (a disaster involving a large geographical area where emergency resources are spread thinly throughout) or a small but involved emergency such as a search and rescue mission or a building collapse. This infrastructure of trained disaster responders is prime to include training in crisis intervention for victims of crime.

As respected members of the community, the CERT would be familiar with the community as a whole and would be trustworthy. Many CERT members are local fire officials or family members of fire officials.

In order to augment disaster response services with coordinated community response in crisis intervention of crime, the team, again, would require training in crisis intervention and must establish a cadre that is ready and willing to respond more often than official CERT requirements. The cadre must prepare a list of community resources available to assist victims of crime, such as psychological and psychiatric counseling if lethality is present or indeterminable or if a general need for counseling exists (Lewis & Roberts, 2001; Roberts & Ottens, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009). Other important resources to include are state victim services organizations, safe housing, legal advocacy, judicial avenues of protection, such as instructions on obtaining no contact orders from the court, press contacts to prepare organized press releases when the crime is of such a magnitude that community outreach is desired. This program with additional assistance from licensed social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists could also benefit the community by providing traditional mobile crisis intervention services, crime notwithstanding.

Guo et al. (2001) examines the usefulness of mobile crisis intervention teams. Redundancy being a limitation in a small community, CERT provides an existing framework of trustworthy and available community members that might be willing to augment their training in order to further service their community in a time of need.


Guo, S., Biegel, D. E., Johnsen, J. A., & Dyches, H. (2001). Assessing the impact of community-based mobile crisis services on preventing hospitalization. Psychiatric Services, 52(2), 223-228. doi:10.1176/

Lewis, S. & Roberts, A. R. (2001). Crisis assessment tools: the good, the bad, and the available. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(1), 17-28. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/1.1.17

Roberts, A. R. & Ottens, A. J. (2005). The seven-stage crisis intervention model: a road map to goal attainment, problem solving, and crisis resolution. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(4), 329-339. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhi030

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Third Judicial District Conference. (1999). Characteristics of an effective coordinated community response. Retrieved from CharacteristicsCCR.pdf