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As a practitioner, he has conducted thousands of behavioral threat assessments and managed hundreds of high-risk cases. His work has been instrumental in decreasing student violence, expulsions, and arrests as well as dismantling the school to prison pipeline. He chaired Oregon’s Mid-Valley Student Threat Assessment Team from its inception in 2000 through 2015, and continues to provide consultation to its membership.


He has also served as a member of the Marion County Threat Advisory Team since 1999. He is the editor and principal author of the book, Assessing Student Threats: Implementing the Salem-Keizer System, Second Edition, and has co-authored a number of threat assessment and school security projects, including legislative proposals from the Oregon Governor’s Task Force on School Safety. His third book (authored with Courtenay McCarthy and Coleen Van Dreal), Preventing Youth Violence: The Pathway Back through Inclusion and Connection, was released in March of 2022.


He has advised on, or contributed to, a number of threat assessment guides, including the International Handbook of Threat Assessment, Second Edition; Threat Assessment in the Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates (U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education); and Making Prevention a Reality: Identifying, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks (Behavioral Analysis Unit, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime). He has been interviewed by a number of television, radio, and print news outlets, including National Public Radio, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mother Jones, Esquire, and HBO.


John is an accomplished instructor and presenter, having trained education staff, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officers from more than 300 school districts, colleges and universities, and communities, offering Cascade training, as well as on a myriad of topics related to school violence prevention, threat assessment, and emergency management. He has led in the effort to include equity, trauma informed care, inclusion, and restorative practice in violence prevention and has assisted in the implementation of threat assessment systems and the formation of threat assessment teams throughout the country. He regularly provides training, consultation, and keynote presentations to national audiences on threat assessment and management, preventing and mitigating human violence, school security, and response options for violent intruder and active-shooter situations.


John is dedicated to his community, supporting nonprofit arts and human services organizations. He is a musician, a published poet, and a nationally renowned fine artist with paintings in several collections. Finally, he is lucky to be the partner of a gifted school counselor, a proud father of two brilliant adult children, and a loving companion to two pets.

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John Van Dreal,
Principal Consultant

Practitioner. Systems Designer. Consultant. Trainer. 

John is a school psychologist and the retired director of security, safety, and risk management for the Salem-Keizer School District. He has more than 30 years of experience in preventive behavioral threat assessment and emergency management, psycho-educational evaluation, crisis intervention, behavioral intervention, and security and risk management systems consultation. He is recognized internationally as an expert in campus threat assessment and as a pioneer of multidisciplinary school threat assessment.


In 1999, he began the development and implementation of the Salem-Keizer Cascade Model, a multiagency student violence prevention and behavioral threat assessment system that is considered by experts to be a leading practice and is identified by the U.S. Department of Education and the What Works Clearinghouse as a best-practice program. In addition to behavioral threat assessment, the collaborative, multidisciplinary Cascade BTA model is now a comprehensive preventive assessment and safety planning system that includes suicide risk assessment and prevention, fire misbehavior assessment, and problematic sexual behavior assessment and management. Through that collaboration, he has worked daily with educators, law enforcement, human resources, trial court personnel, juvenile justice, and mental health professionals in the assessment and management of youth and adult threats of aggression within schools, higher education, public and private institutions, and the community.

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