Handling Threats and Other Disturbing Behavior on Campus

Handling Threats and Other Disturbing Behavior on Campus


– [Steve] Hi, this is Steve Worona, and you’re listening to
Campus Public Safety Online from the National Center
for Campus Public Safety. Before I introduce today’s session, here’s a brief orientation to the Adobe Connect
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respond to that survey when the link arrives. We do appreciate your feedback. And now, for our presentation. Today our topic is
Behavioral Threat Assessment and the need to keep campuses
safe in the face of threats and other disturbing behavior. We’re joined by Doctor
Marisa Randazzo, principal and co-founder of Sigma
Threat Management Associates who is an international
expert on threat assessment, targeted violence, and
violence prevention. In addition to her work
at Sigma Marisa currently serves as Director of Threat Assessment for Georgetown University. Previously she spent 10
years with the US Secret Service most recently as the agency’s
Chief Research Psychologist. Among her various
responsibilities she co-directed the Safe School Initiative,
a landmark federal study of school shootings that
was conducted jointly by the US Secret Service and
US Department of Education. She’s co-author of two leading
books on threat assessment: The Handbook for Campus Threat Assessment and Management Teams, and
Implementing Behavioral Threat Assessment on Campus: A Virginia Tech Demonstration project. She has testified before
Congress and been interviewed by many national news outlets. She received her PhD and Masters degrees from Princeton University and
her BA from Williams College. Marisa was awarded the Williams
College Bicentennial Medal for her work in preventing
violence and was recently honored as a distinguished
alumna of the Spence School. Marissa Randazzo welcome back to Campus Public Safety Online. – [Marisa] Steve, thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to
be back with everyone. All right, let me go through what we’re gonna be tackling today. And, I know we’ve had some
folks send in questions already and we’ll also be taking questions that you can submit as
Steve has indicated. And, I wanna start out with
just kind of giving you a brief overview of what
we’re gonna be tackling within the hour we’ve got together. First just a quick review of
all the different places and sources that threats can come
to our attention on campus. And, I’m saying campus here,
the bulk of the slide content that we have here focuses
on colleges and universities but these principles hold
true for K-12 schools as well. And, I know we’ve got some
folks in attendance from public schools, from
independent schools and I wanna make sure that I address the applicability for your institutions as well. As we talk about behavioral
threat assessment this is a principle and a process
that is just as applicable and considered to be just
as much best practice for K-12 educational
institutions as it is for colleges and universities. So, we’ll start first
with an overview of where the threats come from and
where our responsibility is for handling threats. Is it just internal? Does
it include external threats? And, how do we address those
similarly if we can do so? We’ll do a little bit on
what is Threat Assessment, just a foundational information
about where the process is and really talk about why
it is so important now more than ever to be
using threat assessment in educational institutions
to address threats of violence and other disturbing behavior
that may raise concern about the potential for violence. We’ll take a break at that
point and do a little bit of Q and A and then we’re going to go onto understanding when to
use threat assessments. Many institutions have
multiple teams or may even have a broader based team like
a care team or a behavioral intervention team that
has a broader mandate than just threat assessment. So, we’ll talk about when
to use threat assessment both for when should
something be referred to your threat assessment team
if you have a stand alone threat assessment team or
when should your care team, your behavioral
intervention team engage in the threat assessment
process if you have a broader mandated team that also has
responsibility for handling threats of violence and
potentially dangerous behavior. And then, we’re gonna
talk about how to evaluate your own program. We have such a national
awareness right now in the wake of the Parkland
shooting, in the wake of Santa Fe High School shooting
in Texas of looking at the importance of making
sure not only do we have a threat assessment
capacity but does it include the right components to make
it as effective as possible. So, we’ll talk about ways that
you can do and you can take a checklist from these
slides themselves and you can go back to your own institution
and start to take a look at what do you have in
place, how well is it working and what might you need to
add or enhance or change to make sure we’ve the most
effective program possible. And then, before we get
to our summary Q and A we’re gonna talk about the
impact of high profile events, because when we have high
profile shootings like Parkland, like Santa Fe, like many other
situations that we’ve seen no matter where it occurs
in the country or even in the world, but no matter
where it occurs especially within the US we can see an
impact on our own campuses. And so, we’ll talk about the
way that we may see that impact and how you can use threat
assessment to respond to those incidents. When should you, when should you not? How do you remind people about reporting and what things can you do
in the wake of a high profile incident to again remind all
of your campus constituents about what you are doing
to keep your campuses safe. We’ll have a final summary
Q and A and I did neglect to say that we will also
have a Q and A in between evaluating your program and
then our final discussion about impact of high profile events. So, as I mentioned before you can submit your questions online. You can submit them through
Twitter with the hashtag of hashtag NCCPS webinar
that’s down at the bottom of your screen. And, we will get going
into the content itself. So, our title of our
presentation is Handling Threats and Other Disturbing Behavior on Campus. And, there are multiple places
that disturbing behavior may come to campus and
may be reported to your threat assessment team or
to some entity on campus be it campus police or campus
security to Student Affairs to a Provost office or whatever it may be. We see threats to campus
and concerns about threatening or other
disturbing behavior coming from a whole host of sources. So, most often people
think about potentially violent students when we
think about campus violence and we think about
campus threat assessment. But, the fact of the matter
is that campus threat assessment teams or behavioral
intervention or care teams often see threats coming
not just from students, but from a whole host of sources
that we have listed here. So, it may come to us because
someone’s concerned about behavior they see in a
student but it could be a former student. It could be a former student who had left the institution long ago. It may be a current student. It may be an applicant. We have cases where
people show threatening behavior from applicants. We often see threatening
behavior come from faculty. And again, it may be current faculty, may be former faculty, may be faculty who
are on leave that we need to be able to address. We see campus threats come
from staff, current and former as well as applicants for staff positions, applicants for faculty physicians. We often see, and people
rarely talk about this aspect, that a threat to our
campus may be to one of our employees, one of our
students, but the threat itself may be coming from an
estranged domestic partner that that student or
that employee previously had been in a romantic
relationship with or currently are in a romantic relationship with. We know that the risk of violence to estranged domestic
partners is often greatest at their workplace. So, as an employer or as the
place that enrolls students we know that an estranged
partner can know fairly reliably that our campus is a
location where they can find that partner and seek them out to do harm. We can use threat assessment to address those concerns as well. We have used threat assessment
to address problematic, disturbing, threatening behavior
that may come from parents. And, when we talk about
it, as we move from sort of these direct parties of
students, faculty, and staff to the less direct of
domestic partners, parents, applicants, et cetera what
will switch in our threat assessment process will
necessarily be where we seek out information. So, the more directly we know
a person the more directly we can access information
about them from different silos on campus from
Residential Living, from Student Affairs, from Academic
Affairs, from Student Conduct, from Human Resources, et cetera. As we move down this list
and we move in sort of further distance away
from a direct relationship we can still use the
threat assessment process but we’re gonna be using
it with information from more external sources such
as inquiries with local law enforcement that our
campus security or campus police may be in charge of. But, just to wrap up the list
here we often see threats coming from affiliates, so
we have vendors, oftentimes, on campus that may run our
bookstores, that may run our food service and those
individuals have employees that may not be employees
of the college or university but that are employees of
a company contracted with the college and university. But, they still could
do harm on our campuses so we still have an ability
to look into that behavior and often it’s in tandem
with whatever parent company actually does employ that person. We see sources of campus
threats coming from visitors. There are institutions that
often have outside speakers that may be provocative
or polarizing in some way and that you will get
threats that may come from someone who is intending on
attending an event by that outside speaker and is not
known to campus, but has engaged in threatening behavior
or even if they don’t plan on attending we may get a
completely external threat from someone even halfway
around the world who is expressing a desire to kill
a speaker that may be coming to our campus. Again, we can use the threat
assessment process there but we’ll likely be working
with outside information sources including whatever your
campus liaison person is with your local FBI office
which are often very, very helpful for external threats. And then also, we get false
reports so part of the process of a campus threat assessment
is to be able to rule out whether someone has made a
report to a campus threat assessment team or a care
team because they’re trying to get someone else into trouble. And, our fact finding through
the threat assessment process is what allows us to rule that out. So, all of these different
entities can report information to a threat assessment
team or to a care team or a behavioral intervention team that has threat assessment responsibilities. But likewise, that team can
then go seek out information about the person that’s
been reported from all these different entities
as well as others. So, a threat assessment process
and a threat assessment team is really designed A to receive
information but oftentimes we have people who are
concerned about someone, concerned about behavior
they may become aware of and they don’t really
know what to do with it. So, in that case all we need
for a threat assessment team or a threat assessment
process to work is one report of someone being concerned. And, they may even issue the
report with the caveat of this may be nothing, but I’m
not sure what I’m seeing and I don’t wanna get my
colleague into trouble, I don’t wanna get my
roommate into trouble, I don’t wanna get my friend
into trouble, but I’m worried. The threat assessment team
in process can then take that one report and
start to reach out to all these different silos and
entities on campus and beyond campus to look at, well
are other people concerned? What else is this person doing and saying? And then, how do we piece
it all together and that’s a process we’ll talk about
in just a little bit. So, when we actually talk
about threat assessment it is important to understand
it is a fact finding process. There’s often misconceptions about what threat assessment is. Is it profiling? Is it the same thing as
sending someone to a mental health professional for a
violence risk assessment? The answer to both those questions is no. It’s not profiling. Profiling means to kind
of compare the person that we’re worried about with what someone else or with other people who’ve
done this bad thing look like. Are they wearing black trench coats? Are they Asian male students? We often see reports
that come to us because our campus constituents are
doing their own profiling. They’re worried about
a student who may be on the Autism Spectrum or have
Asperger’s in the wake of, for example, the Sandy Hook
shooting, or now speculation about the Parkland shooting. We saw an increase of
reporting that came to us about concerns about Asian
male students in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting. So, we may get an increase
of reports based on people on our campuses doing their own profiling. But, threat assessment
itself is not profiling. We’re not saying this
person looks very similar therefore they’re dangerous. It is a fact finding process that includes four major components. Efforts from the team to
identify people in situations that raise concern. And, that includes general
awareness and making sure people know we have this
process and we have this team. Once we have reports that we
need to use threat assessment on then we’re gathering information. We’re making inquiries.
We’re investigating. Essentially, we are doing fact finding is that second component. We’re trying to see who
else knows something. And, the reason that we do
that is because in the wake of targeted violence and
these mass shootings that have occurred in K-12
schools and on campus and in workplaces there’s been
a lot of empirical research on those incidents. And, as we’ve dissected them
all what we found is that a lot of people had
concerns about that person prior to the violent
incident but didn’t know where to report them. But, when a threat assessment
team or members of the team make a phone call, stop by
someone’s office, talk with people who know the person
that they’re looking into and ask, “Are you concerned,”
you get that information. So, a key component of
threat assessment which differentiates it from
behavioral intervention, from care teams, from
other support capacities or other support-focused
teams is this requirement to gather more information
from multiple sources, not just with the team,
those around the table but doing some legwork to
figure out who else interacts with this person, who else
is in a position to observe this person and what information
can we get from them? And then, we go through a
fairly systematic process of answering certain questions
to analyze the information and answering questions
to assess the information and assess whether the person
or the situation of concern poses a threat of violence. Is this person on what we
call the pathway of violence? Are they otherwise building the capacity to engage in violence. And, if we think they are
then we go to this fourth and final step, taking steps to intervene, to manage the situation, to
reduce any risk or threat that we see is posed. So, for those of you working
in campus threat assessment already it is likely your
experience, as it has been mine in this field for years,
that many of the cases that I work on really involve
the first three components. Once we assess someone we
don’t think that there’s a capacity for violence, we
may see that they otherwise need some help or
intervention and we refer them to the appropriate department
or appropriate resources to get that help. And, we keep an eye on them. But, there will be cases
as you work in this process where you do have to get in
and do active management. And, I’m not saying that the
team itself is responsible for managing, but the team
is responsible for developing the best available management
plan, getting the right resources and people involved
to mitigate and making sure those steps take place, making sure that action plan is implemented. So, we’re gonna talk quickly about why to use threat assessment. There is now greater
consensus more than ever across the country about the
need for threat assessment on campuses, colleges,
universities, and K-12 institutions. And, part of what we’re
gonna cover here can help you make the case for establishing
a threat assessment team or getting more training or
getting resources for your team if you’re struggling with
doing so at your institution. Threat assessment really
hit sort of the forefront of college and university
awareness after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. And, in the wake of that
incident and the wake of the shooting at Northern
Illinois University in 2008 there were a series of, a
whole host of reports that came out from the Virginia
Governor’s review panel of the Virginia Tech
incident, a joint report that came out from the
Secretary of Education, Justice, and Health and Human
Services about the need for threat assessment. Various professional
associations such IACLEA and others came out with
reports, their blueprint for campus safety for example
focuses on the importance of having threat assessment
among other elements to enhance campus safety. We saw State task forces
emerge on campus safety. And then, in the wake of
the Virginia Tech incident and the Northern Illinois
incident in 2007 and 2008 we actually saw legislation
pass in Virginia and Illinois and then later in Connecticut
after the Sandy Hook shooting requiring threat assessment for their colleges and universities. For Virginia it’s just
for the public colleges and universities, for
Illinois it’s of all of their colleges and universities. So, there is at least in some
states a legal requirement. Now, in the K-12 domain
we saw something similar after Sandy Hook and now
we’re seeing the same thing after Parkland and Santa Fe
where we are seeing a wealth of concern and reports coming
out of legislative committees. We just saw a report come out
of Governor Abbott’s office in Texas a 40 point school
safety plan that included school threat assessment
training as a requirement for Texas schools. And, we also saw legislation
pass in Florida and in Maryland after a K-12 shooting
in Maryland right after the Parkland shooting now
requiring school threat assessment for their K-12 schools as well. So, there’s this reaching
this critical mass around the country about the importance
of using threat assessment and really having the right
tools and team and resources available to do this well
for educational institutions. The last piece on the impetus
why we need to use threat assessment comes from the
fact that in 2010 there was an American National Standard
approved by what is known as the American National Standard
Institute or ANSI. And, the American National
Standard that’s approved by ANSI is essentially
either a commerce focused requirement or a business or
professional service process that has reached such consensus
that they say that yes, this is considered to be best practice. So, there was one that was
written for risk analysis for colleges and
universities for how colleges and universities can
address a whole host of, address and prepare for a
whole of host of natural disasters, manmade hazards, et cetera. It is a fairly broadly written
American National Standard, but it includes very
specific language that every college and university should
have a threat assessment team or a threat assessment capacity. And, it included two resources
for handling those threats: The Handbook for Campus Threat Assessment and Management Teams, and
Implementing Behavioral Threat Assessment on Campus: A Virginia
Tech Demonstration Project. Those two resources happen to
be books that my colleagues and I have co-authored. And, the process that we
document in those books is the process that is now
recommended in this ANSI approved American National Standard. An American National Standard
doesn’t hold the same force or weight as legislation. It doesn’t require
colleges and universities to have threat assessment
teams, but an ANSI approved American National Standard
is often what is used as a benchmark in litigation,
if an institution is being sued for how they handled
or failed to handle a situation of concern. So, to be able to look at these
resources, these two books, to be able to attend a training
session that goes through the process laid out in
these two books, for example, and the process is the same across these. You can actually just
choose one if you want to. But, to be able to say our
campus includes the components recommended in these
resources, includes training recommended in these resources
it helps to, first of all, ensure that you are really
following best practice procedures for campus threat assessment and also can help out from a
liability standpoint as well. You did what you were supposed to do. So, the recommendation
here and the expectation, whether it’s from the legislation
or from the ANSI approved National Standard is not
that we will prevent every violent incident from happening,
although threat assessment gives us our best opportunity to do so. The expectation is that we
are gonna do the best we can with the information we can
gather, and the objective assessment we can make,
and the intervention that we can coordinate if a
situation needs intervention. And, these resources
help to lay out a process for how to do that. Really, a step-by-step guide for how we should be doing that. So, before we go onto knowing
when to use threat assessment Steve I think we’re at a
point where we can take a couple of questions. – [Steve] Thanks Marisa, yes. We are listening to
Doctor Marisa Randazzo. We are talking today
about threat assessment. If you have questions
or comments for Marisa we have several breaks planned
during the presentation. Type them into that blank
line at the bottom of the Questions and Comments
pod in the upper left corner of your screen. Marisa, should campus and
emergency management be involved in threat assessment in
the threat assessment team? – [Marisa] Absolutely, campus
emergency management can be part of the team or they
can work in consultation with the team, but it is very
important to understand that threat assessment is different
from crisis management or emergency management. Threat assessment is
really the capacity that you’re building to try to prevent a crisis or emergency from happening. Emergency management is
the team and the process you would use once something
violent or some other hazard or disaster occurs on campus. So, it’s very important for
emergency management personnel to know what threat
assessment is and to sit in on some meetings. They may even become a
regular part of the team. But, it is also important
for those two capacities to talk about when do
we own this versus when do you own this. – [Steve] Do you have any
tips for gaining faculty buy-in for the program? – [Marisa] Yeah absolutely,
faculty buy-in often we see faculty come to the situation
with a number of concerns that may or may not be sort of warranted. One is often times we’ll
see faculty say, “Look, “I don’t want to report
one of my students to you “because I have a good
relationship with them “and because I don’t
wanna lost that ability.” Part of what we can do to
help faculty understand is that this is primarily
a support focus process. We’re gonna look to find
what tools and resources can best help someone who
is considering engaging in violence and that their
involvement, that faculty member’s involvement
may be a critical piece. So, we’re not gonna wanna
separate or sort of distance someone from something that’s
already a positive influence for that person. So, we can help by helping
faculty understand this is not a star chamber mechanism. This is not a disciplinary process. And, in fact, sometimes
a threat assessment team will ask for student conduct
to wait on proceeding through their normal
procedures because doing so might increase risk beyond
the level that they could manage at that time and
to allow for some other intervention to take place first. Another thing that’s important
to understand for faculty is that this can be a very
helpful tool for them to be able to engage a threat
assessment process. When they are facing
classroom behavior that is not responding to their normal
or their typical classroom management techniques and strategies. So, if you can help faculty
understand that this is a tool that can be helpful to them
ultimately for maintaining good behavior in the classroom,
we don’t want every bad classroom behavior incident
to be referred to a threat assessment team, but helping
faculty who are resistant or reluctant to engage with
the threat assessment team to know what it is they
do can be very helpful. One thing we’ve seen
teams do a great job of and Virgina Tech really led
the way for this when they established their team in
2008 was creating a frequently asked questions sheet having
it on a website, having it as a one-page or two-page
flyer that can be downloaded that really captures common
questions that people ask of a threat assessment
team when they don’t really understand what it is
they’re being asked to do or what happens once
they report information. So, having an FAQ that you
can hand out to faculty, to staff, to resident advisors,
even to students can be very helpful for a team to develop. – [Steve] Thanks Marisa,
those of you listening keep those questions coming. We won’t lose ’em. In the meantime, we’ll let you get back to your presentation, Marisa. – [Marisa] Fantastic, okay
so we often get questions as to when should you
use threat assessment. Essentially, we will have
reports coming into a threat assessment team that are
appropriate for threat assessment. We have reports coming
into a team that may not be best placed with a threat
assessment team or for using the threat assessment process. So, let we walk you through
what screening looks like for us in a threat assessment process. When a report comes in
we typically screen it for two elements. First and foremost, is this an emergency or imminent situation? It doesn’t happen often,
but we do know of situations where the threat assessment
team on campus was the only entity alerted about a
potentially imminent situation. Something like, “My roommate
just stormed out he said “he’s going to go get
his weapon in his truck “and go find the teacher,
the faculty member that “just failed him in the course,” right? For something like that for
us this is a report that says we need some immediate containment. This is a campus police
call. It’s a 911 call. Yes, the threat assessment
team will likely be engaged going forward, but because
this is potentially crisis management, and not threat
assessment we screen for that to say, “Look, is this
something that needs to be “addressed imminently, do
we see some imminence here “or some emergency? “Do we need to make sure the
situation itself is stable “before we engage the
threat assessment process?” So, we screen reports
for that element first. When a team is trying to
figure out what does imminence look like and what situations
will we use that in it’s very important to make
sure they’ve got their campus law enforcement or campus
security rep engaged in that conversation and
maybe even leadership from their campus police or
campus public safety folks because it is very helpful
to know what would we do if we got a call for X. And, you can work through
a couple of hypotheticals. We often see campus threat
assessment teams saying imminence is sort of how the Supreme
Court defines pornography. You’ll know it when you see it. Well, we think some upfront
conversations with campus public safety are gonna
be a very important first to say, “Hey, if we get a call about this “what would you do?” And then, to know when
you’d first pass it off, what situations you would first
pass off to law enforcement for containment and then
what processes you’d then go to further screen for threat assessment. So, screen for imminence
or emergency situations. The second thing we screen
for is, is this situation as it’s coming to us now appropriate for the threat assessment process. And again, as we talk
about the nuts and bolts of this process these steps
are just as relevant and usable in K-12 situations
as they are in higher ed. For K-12 if you don’t have
a point of contact with your local law enforcement
department now is the time to get one. Reach out to your local
police department or sheriff’s office and find out who’s
going to be the best point of contact for you if you
have a threat to your school and start to establish
that relationship now. Have them over to take
a tour of the school. Talk about building a
threat assessment capacity or if you have one what it looks like. Make sure you’ve got a cell
phone number, a mobile number so you can reach that
person when you need to. Now’s the time to establish
that contact if you don’t. So, we’ve gone through imminence
and then we go to see is this appropriate for the threat
assessment process itself? And essentially, when we do
that one thing that’s very helpful for threat assessment
teams to do is to try to come up with a clear
definition of their jurisdiction or their team’s scope. What situations should threat
assessment be primarily responsible for handling
or for coordinating? And, what situations should
they not be responsible for? This is a great exercise
for a threat assessment team to go through. You may already have a mission statement. And, your mission statement
may clearly define what situations your team owns or not, but oftentimes teams don’t. And, we’ve seen many
institutions have multiple teams a care team or behavioral
intervention team and a threat assessment
team and there can create some legitimate,
understandable confusion about which team owns what situation. So, one of the things that
we helped Virginia Tech to do in the wake of their shooting
in 2007 was they looked to establish a threat
assessment team in addition to the robust care team that
they already had in place. And, one of the challenges
for them was really trying to figure out who owned what. So, we helped their threat assessment team and their care team work
together in a big joint meeting to define the scope. What does threat assessment
own versus what does the care team own. And, for them, they came
down to a dividing line of if there was a threat
of potential violence or other behavior that raised
someone’s concern about potential violence then
the threat assessment team would take the lead on that. And, if it was something
short of that, if including self-harm only, if the only
concern was about suicide or self-harm then their
care team would own that. And, if at any point the
team that took primary responsibility realized
we’ve gotten more information and now know it looks
different it goes elsewhere then they would refer that case over. They also did something
very important which was they made sure they had
significant overlap across the two teams. So, a number of people who
served on the care team also sat on the threat
assessment team to help make sure that a case that was referred to one team was where it was supposed
to be and not that it should have been transferred elsewhere. They came up with one, they
had this sort of scope in place for a while, they added
a couple of parameters and they came up with one
that was actually important that if there was a concern
that was being handled by the care team perhaps for
a concern about self-harm or suicide only, but that
it was, it resulted in an involuntary psychiatric
evaluation or in Virginia it’s called a TDO, if it
resulted in that if it got so significant that a court
said, “Yes we think this “person needs to go in for
an emergency psychiatric “evaluation involuntarily,”
or, “they need to be “involuntarily hospitalized,”
then the threat assessment team would take the lead on that case. So, they came up with kind of
general scope for both teams, some screening questions they could use. If we have any concern
about any threat of violence it goes to threat assessment
versus if it’s just a concern, and I don’t mean
to say just, but if it’s a concern about someone
who’s engaging in extensive cutting behavior that
belongs on the care team. So, those are examples of how
they would kind of bifurcate and refer those questions elsewhere. So, it’s important to have
that in place especially if you’re working in an institution
that has multiple teams because there can easily be
a situation that is referred to one team and that team
handles it as they would all the situations they
are accustomed to handling, but yet if it’s appropriate
instead to be referred to threat assessment you want
to make sure it gets there. One of the areas that we
have seen colleges and universities be criticized
on is having a threat assessment team but not
using it, failing to use it in certain situations. This also applies to Title IX situations, or follow related investigations
into sexual assault, domestic violence, dating
violence, and stalking. We are in the midst of
shifting sands in terms of what colleges and universities
are expected to do to handle those particular situations. But, what we had seen is
that in the wake of previous regulations that colleges
and universities stood up Title IX offices with
Title IX coordinators and Title IX investigators
who were primarily responsible for running investigations
and swift investigations into any allegations of sexual
assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking. Primarily sexual assault,
but it included these other acts of interpersonal violence. We also know that those
situations often may include significant, ongoing safety
concerns that the Title IX processes weren’t necessarily
as adept to address as a campus threat assessment program was. So, in the wake of Title IX
expectations and regulations we’ve seen another silo crop up. And, threat assessment is
really designed to help make sure information
still flows across silos and to coordinate
information among all those different silos and departments
at a college or university. So, one of the things that
we’ve seen is to be important is active steps that a
threat assessment team can take to do outreach to Title IX
investigators and coordinators on campus to say, “Hey, we’re
here if you have an ongoing “safety concern, and we
really are the entity that “should be addressing
that safety concern.” Not to say that threat
assessment would then own the Title IX investigation,
at all, but that they could run a parallel process using
information that was reasonably accessible from the Title IX process. You don’t wanna have
multiple interviews going on, for example, but using
information that was already available from the
Title IX process or other entities on campus to evaluate
ongoing safety concerns or potential for danger as a
Title IX investigation unfolds and to make safety recommendations
while that investigation is still going on. So, I worked with a number
of institutions around the country where they’ve
had an ongoing and oftentimes lengthy and complex Title
IX investigation but significant immediate safety
concerns for those involved. Not only for a complainant,
safety concerns for a respondent, safety
concerns for the Title IX investigators, and excuse
me, safety concerns for the student conduct
personnel who were involved in handling the hearing process involved. So, using threat assessment
can help you to take a look behind the scenes
to say as this going on what do we need to do to
issue no contact orders? What do we need to do
provide emergency housing? Do we need to offer on-campus escorts? Do we need to ask that
the hearing be held in a certain way so people
can’t see each other? They can hear each other but
they can’t see each other. Different things that a
team can look at to say, “Do we need to do anything,
and if so what can we do “to help make sure that
safety is maintained as “this Title IX investigation proceeds?” So, having screening
questions and conversations like that with Title IX can
be very important as well as we help to figure out is
this a situation referred to us that is appropriate for
the threat assessment team or for using the threat
assessment process or does it actually belong elsewhere? Okay, so in terms of
evaluating your program we talked about this
American National Standard. The American National
Standard, as I said, references these two books. And, while the books have been
published 10 years ago now, nine or 10 years ago now the
principles and the processes remain just as valid as when
they were first published. This is a process, in terms of
behavioral threat assessment it is a process that has been
used for close to 40 years now by Federal law enforcement,
by some state law enforcement, more and more by state
and local law enforcement. But, it has been used for years now with only minor modifications. So, there’s often concern about, “Well, this reference is old.” It is old because it is a
well established reference. There may be updates to some
of the reference documents, for example, but just because
the publishing date is from five, 10, 15, 20 years
ago doesn’t mean that the procedure is not as valid. So, one of the things that
we have seen in the field of threat assessment is
that there is such a robust level of case experience
from people who have used this process all around
the country and now internationally as well. And, we are building more
and more of an experience database with individual
cases that really help to show time and again how well
this process works. So, going back to the
American National Standard to the components that are
referenced in terms of what a best practice threat
assessment program looks like. The components we have here
apply both to higher ed and also to K-12 institutions. First and foremost, we
need to make sure that the people involved in
handling the situation is a multi-disciplinary team. See, you wanna make sure that
your team has representation from at least a couple of
core areas from people who are part of the institution’s
administration, so a Dean of Students, Dean of Academic
Affairs for example. That you’ve got sort of school-based or campus-based administrators. That you have law enforcement
expertise represented on the team. And that can be from your
campus police department, public safety, campus
security, and/or from local law enforcement to
make sure you have a point of contact you can establish
a relationship with. And then, you also need mental
health expertise on the team. So, you need to make sure
that you’ve got someone from your counseling center, if you have one. Your employee assistance
program or faculty and staff assistance program if you have one. But also, if you don’t you
can easily seek out assistance from mental health professionals
within your community. We have seen time again in
the wake of high profile shootings mental health
professionals, for example, through the American
Psychological Association offering their assistance. So, you can easily
seek out professionals who are willing to sit on
your team on a pro bono basis or on a reduced fee basis
just to provide some mental health expertise
if you do not have that on your campus already. You can also seek out that
expertise if you are in a small institution that is
in a locality that’s near a larger institution. You may be able to ask
for someone to be loaned over to your team to sit in on meetings. And, they can sit in on
meetings by phone to provide that mental health expertise. One important caveat about
this piece of it is that you wanna make sure you
are not looking for mental health provider that is already
in a treating relationship with that student or that
employee or that person that’s raised concern. They’re gonna be bound by confidentiality and less able to work with a team. It’s not that it’s
impossible, but they are bound by very important and high
threshold confidentiality laws that protect the information
they’ve gotten from their client or from their patient. What you really want is someone
who can sit in on the team and say, “Okay, we’re
dealing with a case where “we know this person has
been diagnosed with X “and they’ve gone off their
medication what behavior “can we expect in that situation?” Or, “This is behavior that
looks like it might be “X or Y or Z diagnosis
and could benefit from “some thorough evaluation
and some treatment.” or, “We don’t see any mental
health or mental disorder “components in this case so
we don’t need to consider “that aspect of it.” So, there are lots of different
ways that that expertise can be used that is completely
different and separate from involving someone
who’s already treating the person of concern. Multi-disciplinary teams
on campuses often are much bigger than this though,
so we see involvement from a Provost’s office. We often see involvement from
General Council’s office. We typically get a
question, “Does someone from “General Council’s office need
to sit in on every meeting?” And our answer is that it really
depends on the institution. And depends on the preference of your General Council’s office. You wanna make sure that your
team has access to General Council guidance when they need it. And, for some institutions
that means let’s have someone sit in on every meeting. For other institutions it is
a much more at arm’s length relationship where involve us
when you need our guidance. But, one thing that is very
important is to make sure that whatever General Council
representation you have on your team sits through your
threat assessment training so they understand what it
is that the team is doing. So, going further on from
the team it is important for the team to have
some authority to engage in threat assessment. Some institutions choose to
codify this in a formal policy statement, others choose to do it less formally but more
simply through a letter from the college president, for
example, to the individuals on the team authorizing them
to engage in threat assessment on behalf of the institution. A very important component
for engaging in best practices for campus threat assessment
is getting high quality threat assessment and
threat management training. And, I’ll go through some
caveats we’ve got in just a minute about how to
look for good trainers. And then, having some process to follow. When cases come to a
threat assessment team they often move rapidly and
you wanna make sure that you aren’t missing any
of the important points. You don’t go immediately
from initial report to what can we do to intervene from a threat management standpoint. You wanna make sure
you’re still fact finding, analyzing, reaching an assessment, and then going to intervention. So, even just having a one
page checklist or a flow chart can be tremendously helpful for a team. You wanna make sure
your team has access to intervention resources on
campus and off and that you look for resources
and start to establish those relationships if you
don’t already have them, and similarly to the ability
to engage in case monitoring. And, you wanna make sure
you’ve got additional resources that support threat assessment
operation, largely looking at making sure
that you’ve got buy-in from the institution. And, that you’ve got buy-in from leadership that say, “yes this is important and
will help to make sure “you do this well.” So, you can use this
particular slide as a checklist when you go back to your campuses to say, “What do we have in place?” And, to have some candid
conversations around what’s working well and what
needs to be done differently or better or needs to be changed. And, the ways that we can
evaluate the different components of a program are actually myriad. There are lots of ways you can do it. You can do it through a
team discussion, or some after action analysis
about a particular incident that you thought the
team handled very well or incidents where the team
felt like they had a near miss. Those discussions can be
tremendously helpful and valuable. You can bring in some
outside consultants to do an external review of a team process. And oftentimes, when outside
consultants are brought in they may issue a report
that will go to your General Council’s office. So, it’s considered to be
privileged and General Council can determine how best to circulate that. There’s some teams
that issue annual reports that really look at usage over time. So, how many reports came in
from what aspects of campus. You can do some informal
feedback from people who have reported situations to
the team and ask them, “What was that experience like? “And, are there things
that we can do to make “that experience better from a
customer service standpoint?” You can also do survey’s
of constituent groups about do you even know we have a team? We see that in different
campuses who will do that type of awareness around
whistleblower capacities, or reporting about
incidents involving risk to minors for example. So, you can do the same thing
for your threat assessment capacity as well. And then, we can have some
team discussions just within the team itself about recent
high profile incidents. What if that were to happen here? What did they see before hand? If we saw that what would we do? All of these mechanisms can
be tremendously beneficial and informative for a team
to look at how are we doing and are there things that we
can and should be doing better? Now, I mentioned before
about getting access to high quality training
and the same applies to if you’re gonna be
bringing in any consultants to do an external review
of your team or even to help you through a
particularly complex case. What we see after high
profile incidents at colleges and universities and K-12
schools and workplaces is that we see experts
pop up everywhere claiming to have expertise that
they don’t actually have using the right buzzwords,
but actually don’t have the experience to back
what it is that they say they can provide to a
college or a university or a K-12 school. So, we’ve got five questions
here and this is actually a blog that we’ve got on
the SIGMATMA.com website that you can download as well
about questions you should be asking anyone that you’re
gonna bring in to help in a threat assessment capacity. People who actually have
experience and have been working cases for a
considerable period of time can answer these questions
directly and they should be able to do so. Anyone you bring in for
threat assessment expertise should be able to answer these questions. Do you wanna know how much
direct experience they have in handling cases individually? There’s no clear answer
but we often think that having at least 10 years
of experience working cases is a good telling length of time. If someone’s been handling
cases for one or two years I wouldn’t want them
coming in to train my team. Have them provide examples
of cases they’ve worked on and they shouldn’t be able to hide behind, “Well, I can’t share information,
it’s all confidential.” They do not have to tell
you any names or locations but they can provide a sanitized
explanation of examples of cases that they’ve worked on. You also wanna know what their
most challenging case was or if they faced an
intervention that didn’t work, what did they do to fix it? For those of us who’ve
worked in threat assessment these are cases, we hit
situations where our normal interventions don’t work. We have to find workarounds. There’s no high quality
threat assessment professional out there that hasn’t had a
particularly challenging case. If they say they haven’t
they’re lying to you or they don’t have the
experience to back their claims. We also ask, “What do your
references say about you? “What do you do well?
What do you do poorly?” And then also, “Give me some references “to verify your credentials.” So, it’s important, you
are bringing people for their expertise to help you
handle what are potentially life and death situations. So, I wanna make sure that
you get the best quality expertise that you can. Steve, I think we have
an minute or two for some questions here. And then, we have a very
short segment before we go the rest of our Q and A. – [Steve] We do and we’ve
already pointed out to folks that you have volunteered,
Marisa, to accept the questions by email for the large
number that I’m afraid we’re not gonna be able
to get to during this hour. So, I appreciate that offer. Mark Margolis wonders
what would you recommend to mental health crisis
teams without easy access to threat assessment teams
when they regularly encounter threats of violence in
different form in addition to suicide and self-harm? And, Willam Wilkerson
raises a related point BCCS does not allow us to
have counseling services on community college campuses. How do you compensate for that? – [Marisa] Excellent questions for both. So, let me tackle first
from Mark Margolis. Really, what you can
do is you as individual mental health professionals
can get the threat assessment training as well. And, you can use the
same types of techniques seeking out collateral
information from other sources if you don’t have access to
a threat assessment team. There’s information that
if you’re asked to be doing a forensic evaluation for
example there’s information that you can seek out in terms of information from about conduct,
about criminal history, perceptions from external
sources, et cetera. So, if you go through
threat assessment training then you can really look at
what else do I need to look at or just go through
something like the campus threat assessment handbook or in K-12 the sorry the school threat
assessment guide written by the Secret Service and US
Department of Education. They offer good step-by-step
fact finding guidance about where to look for information. And then, what questions to answer to analyze that information. For colleges and
universities that don’t have essentially the counseling
capacity, we see this often. A couple of creative things
we’ve seen done is partnering with the local universities
that may have a clinical psychology program and
using some of their interns or residents under
supervision to engage with your threat assessment team. We have seen a number of telemedicine type relationships crop up. State of Vermont, for
the their K-12 schools often is challenged by
very little local access to mental health professionals. But, they are establishing
a more robust network of mental health professionals
that are available to sit in by phone call or by Skype or Zoom to sit with a team
and help them think through some issues and help
identify regional resources if they need some mental
health interventions. For community colleges,
commuter colleges, rural institutions, college or 12
K level we often see this challenge, but we’re seeing
some creative solutions along those partnering
and telemedicine lines. So, let me go back to the
impact of high profile events and we’ve already talked
about this a little bit and then we’ll return to
the rest of our questions. What we have seen anecdotally
and case experience and there’s been some
systematic research is that when a high profile mass
casualty event occurs somewhere in a similar institution
to a college or even other institutions in a K-12
domain and a workplace in the US or elsewhere, if
it gets a considerable amount of media attention we can see
ripple effects on our campus. And, we see them in a number of ways. So, we’ll see increased
reporting to the team regarding a whole host of concerning behavior. And, we often don’t see it
in the two or three days following the high profile event. We’ll see almost a delay and
then a real spike in reporting. There’s certainly some
colleges and universities that may see this right after. But for the ones that we
work with we often see a quiet couple days and then
a real spike in reporting that all of a sudden
faculty are looking at their students differently, staff are looking at their coworkers differently. People who’ve known
about situations for months finally decide I need
to get this off my desk and get it to someone who can
look at this more thoroughly. So we see an increase of reporting of concerning behavior, generally. We often see, as we already
mentioned, an increase of reports of people who
look similar to whatever the perpetrator looked like in
those high profile incidents. And, that is the sort
of informal profiling that our campus personnel
will often engage in. But, we also see something
that is important to understand, places that
have had mass casualty events themselves can become magnets
for people from all over the world who wanna come
and be at that location. One of the very first threat
assessments situations the new Virginia Tech
threat assessment team or threat management team
had to handle after their 2007 situation involved
a faculty member from an institution in the midwest
with no relationship to Virginia Tech, but who
was suicidal and felt drawn to this location. So, he left a suicide note
on his desk, took a bus to Blacksburg, Virginia
and the institution that found the suicide note
alerted Virginia Tech and they got their police
department involved and their threat management
team, their brand new threat management team
involved to do an assessment and work with this
individual because his desire was to kill himself on
their campus in Blacksburg at the place where they had established their informal memorial. We often see that when
reports come in in the wake of high profile incidents
they’re coming in with an increased urgency by
the people reporting them. They want answers and
they want them yesterday. And so, part of what we
have to do as a threat assessment team, a threat management team is to be able to help to
provide some intermittent or immediate sort of victim assistance or reporter assistance
to help them feel calmer as we work through our process. It is easy for a threat
management team to feel driven by the urgency of
their targets or victims. We also know that all
of this can result in increased demand on a
team that may also may be facing limited resources
and that this impact can go on for quite a while. So, when an instance happens
we often see these effects. One important thing that teams can do now, especially as we go into the
summer months is think about okay how do we size up, how
do we make this scalable if we need to after the
next high profile event. Let’s get some stuff out
early about reminding people to report but reminding
them specifically about what to report. Let’s make sure we’ve
got our support resources onboard so that if we need
to refer a staff member who’s feeling particularly
scared to the employee assistance program as we
work through this process we have the ability to do so. So, just a quick summary
that threat assessment is really considered to be
the best practice for preventing campus
violence and K-12 violence and has been for quite some time. We’ve got great benchmarks
that people can use for their program establishment and making sure that it goes to the right team and you use threat
assessment when you should be using threat assessment is a
critical piece to all of this. Steve, let’s go over to
any remaining questions we can fit in in our
remaining four minutes. And, as Steve has mentioned
multiple times my email address is being put in the
scroll, so please feel free to email your questions directly
and I’ll get back to you. – [Steve] And we’ve
got about oh 30 seconds or maybe a minute before
we have to do the wrap up so let me see if we can
squeeze this one in. How do you determine or
judge what is a credible situation for threat assessment? – [Marisa] Really, to
determine whether something’s credible you’ve gotta dig
into and get some information And, that helps us to rule
out false reports as well. There’s is nothing
about an initial report, and we’ve often heard
people use things like well if it’s specific to time and
place then it’s more credible than it’s not. In my experience working
with school shooters, studying school shootings,
studying campus shootings, handling cases for nearly
25 years I have never seen something that easily defines it. So, if you’ve got a report
that meets your scope you’re gonna get in and
get more information, do that fact finding piece
of it and then do your analysis to figure out is
this something or is this nothing and how do we respond accordingly. – [Steve] Thanks very
much, Marisa, and thanks to all of our viewers and questioners
from around the internet. Check the NCCPS webinars
page for a link to the captioned recording of
today’s presentation as well as a link to our speaker’s slides. The brief evaluation
survey I mentioned earlier should already be in your mailbox. It will take you no more
than two minutes to complete. Please do, we read and
act on your comments. The next Campus Public Safety
Online webinar will take place from two to three p.m. Eastern
Time on Tuesday July, 10th. Our speakers will be
Madeline Sullivan, management and program analyst with the
Department of Education’s office of Safe and Healthy
Students and Janelle Hughes Director of Communications
with the REMS TA Center. Madeline and Janelle will be
explaining how the REMS TA Center supports institutions
of higher education. The registration URL is on
your screen and clickable or surf on over to the
National Center Webpage at NCCPSafety.org. That’s NCCPSafety.org. And, mark your calendar
for our August webinar, two to three p.m. Easter
Time on August 14th, featuring Monty McKee, Philip
Ramer, and Jennifer Skinner. Monty, Philip, and Jennifer
are senior research associates with the Institution for Intergovernmental research. And, they’ll be telling
us about the nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative. Again, register by clicking
the URL on your screen or go through the NCCPS
webpage at NCCPSafety.org. Campus Public Safety
Online is brought to you by the National Center for
Campus Public Safety with support from the
University of Vermont Continuing and Distance Education and the US Department of Justice. Special thanks today to Andrea
Young, this is Steve Worona see you next time on Campus
public Safety Online.

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