Rick Shaw

Founder, CEO & Connecting the Dots Officer, Awareity

Over 30 years ago Rick Shaw, CEO, Founder, and Connecting the Dots Officer of Awareity began to see the dangerous disconnects and gaps Threat Assessment Teams (TATs) were and would be facing. He saw disconnects in ongoing awareness, accountability, security, measurability, sustainability, preventability, and more. He knew conventional controls were not, and would not, equip Assessment Teams (threat, community, behavior, risk, prevention, etc.) with the right tools to connect the dots so they could intervene and prevent preventable incidents, liabilities, and tragedies before they occurred.

As incidents involving global terrorism, homegrown terrorism, attacks on law enforcement, workplace violence, drugs, gangs, domestic, social media, and other threats continue to increase, Rick knew it was time to move beyond the “status quo” and conventional controls so he took the lead and created the Community-wide Connecting the Dots Platform that numerous organizations, communities, and agencies across the United States use to prevent incidents, liabilities, and tragedies every day.

With over 10,000 hours of research and investigation to his credit, Rick continues to push the boundaries of risk mitigation, threat assessment, and prevention by speaking internationally, writing professional articles, and sharing his vision for a safer world.

Rick’s Story

My story starts when I was in 6th grade where I went to school in the same building as the special needs students.  One of the special needs girls – MJ – was constantly being bullied and teased by other students and on numerous occasions, the others would get MJ so riled up she would have a seizure.  I remember how sad it was to see MJ have a seizure and then wake up from her seizure so scared and afraid because she did not know where she was.

Now, I was a little guy back then but I decided that I needed to step up and do the right thing and prevent the other students from bullying and teasing MJ.  From that point on, whenever I saw other students bullying and teasing MJ, I would hang out with her and tell the others to move along. After a while, a couple of my friends joined in and then a teacher got involved too and MJ’s experience at school completely changed with no bullying, no teasing, and no seizures.

This was my first experience with what I now call a “Return on Prevention”.  The culture changed, the students were much happier, teachers were happier, and MJ was much happier and she even called me her boyfriend and chased me around to give me hugs!

But the “Return on Prevention” didn’t stop there… for the next 6 years of school, when I met MJ in the hallways of school, we would smile or wave or say hi… the “Return on Prevention” continued.

What’s even more amazing was the “Return on Prevention” didn’t stop there… 31 years later at our 25th Class Reunion, I walked into the reunion and there was MJ!  She got that big smile on her face that I remembered and still gave those great hugs, and then she introduced me to her husband!  The “Return on Prevention” continued, and to my surprise, about a year after the reunion, I received a digital birthday card from MJ via the class reunion website.  The “Return on Prevention” continues…


The First Preventers Playbook

Publication Date: October 2020

How many more shootings and other acts of violence will it take before real change is made?

We need better prevention of tragedies and incidents of violence of all sorts, and research reveals better prevention is possible, but most organizations and communities do not have a program to complement their first responders.

Leaders in schools, higher education, organizations, and communities are beginning to look for prevention solutions, and understanding how to implement a program is key to leading the way. By educating, empowering, and equipping first preventers to collect, assess, and connect the dots and take the right actions to disrupt at-risk individuals on the pathway to violence, more violent incidents and tragedies can be prevented, and fewer first responders will have to put their lives on the line.

This is where The First Preventers Playbook comes in. The First Preventers Playbook presents proven research-based approaches to show all community members how to take action when faced with different potential risks. It also provides a play-by-play for executive management team members who are responsible for establishing effective prevention and who are concerned with improving safety for schools, organizations, and communities. With this guide, more incidents and tragedies can be prevented before the need to call first responders even arises.

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