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Threat Assessment Teams Handout

Threat Assessment Teams Defined
Process of formally evaluating a threat or threatening
behavior to determine the probability of an act of
The process involves the development of action steps
intended to reduce the probability of violence as an
option by the individual or group identified as a threat.
- West Chester University – West Chester, PA
"He just snapped"
While every individual has the potential to act out
violently, mass murder on the scale of a
Columbine or Virginia Tech is not something that
occurs in an instant.
The perpetrators of these events took months and
in some instances years to plan out their attack.
In some events the planning time frame is days.
Behavioral Changes
Often times people interviewed after the fact, point out
the changes in behavior that they had observed.
In many cases these changes were not reported or when
they were reported they were kept in independent silos of
information so that no one group could see the whole
Purpose – West Chester University
For the safety of the campus community any threat, explicit or
implied, will be considered a statement of intent. The Threat
Assessment Team will recommend actions to the appropriate Vice
President(s) in order to protect the student, employee, and
University community. This Team has been established to:
Respond to circumstances of violence, threatening behavior,
unwanted pursuit, or harassment;
Investigate the situation and recommend appropriate actions
including suspension, expulsion, termination of employment, filing
of criminal charges, or ongoing monitoring for follow-up and
observation of behavior patterns;
Respond quickly to behavior indicating a student, faculty, or staff
member poses a risk to self or others;
Purpose – West Chester University
Identify resources for troubled students and personnel and make referrals to
appropriate campus and off-campus agencies;
Help secure therapeutic actions that are appropriate, such as treatment or
Notify, within FERPA guidelines, parents, guardians and/or next-of-kin;
Initiate action to place a student/employee in the custody of a mental health
facility capable of supporting specific behaviors;
Require internal or external psychological evaluations;
Coordinate and assess information from faculty, administrators, students, and local
Make recommendations to the Vice President for Student Affairs and/or the Vice
President for Administration and Finance who will sign-off on action to be taken;
Periodically assess outcomes of actions taken.
Threat Assessment Team – West Chester University
The WCU Threat Assessment Team is small group
comprised of individuals that represent a cross
section of the University community.
The group is convened by the Director of Public
Safety who received advanced training at the
Threat Assessment and Management Academy.
Threat Assessment Team
In addition to the threat assessment team, a special
investigator has been assigned to review threats. This
investigator collects supporting data and provides
updates on open cases to the team.
In cases where special skill sets are needed the team will
reach out to professionals both on and off campus.
Team Response to Potential Threats
Upon receipt of a valid threat the Threat Assessment Team
will meet and discuss the threat and determine
appropriate steps towards resolution.
During this phase the team will address the need for
investigative interviews, assistance from experts, etc.
The goal of the team is to take steps to de-escalate the
situation and remove violence as an alternative from the
individual or group responsible for the threat.
Team Response
Action steps are developed by the Threat Assessment Team as
a means to address a reported incident.
Action steps may include:
Referral to mental health agencies
Removal from the campus community
Referral to behavioral modification counseling
Restrictions on communications with individuals
Communications regarding the actions
Monitoring the situation without taking actions
Team Meetings
The threat assessment team meet often. It is at this time that
the team reviews and makes any necessary adjustments to
steps being taken to resolve the issue.
Special meetings are called to review new threats.
In cases where individuals have successfully completed a
counseling program the team may recommend that they
be allowed to return to the University.
In situations where individuals have become more agitated
the team may alter the course of action by increasing or
decreasing the attention given.
What you should not expect
In order for the threat assessment team to make informed decisions
they must be able review confidential information.
This information will not be shared with the reporting person or others in
the workplace. (Photos, Medical Records, etc.)
In dealing with privacy issues of the individual it is difficult for the
Threat Assessment Team to disclose certain information.
The team makes every effort possible to meet and discuss relevant issues
with the reporting person or area.
However there will be a point of disconnect with regards to information
sharing. Therefore all behavior that raises concerns should be reported.
Warning signs
These warning signs may be evident in combination or individually. If
you observe any of these warning signs contact the Department of
Public Safety.
▪ Social withdrawal
▪ History of discipline problems
▪ Excessive feelings of isolation or ▪ Past history of violent and
aggressive behavior
▪ Being a victim of violence
▪ Drug use and alcohol use
▪ Feelings of being picked on and ▪ Affiliation with gangs
▪ Inappropriate access to,
▪ Uncontrolled anger
possession of, and use of firearms
▪ Impulsive and chronic hitting,
▪ Intolerance for differences,
intimidating, bullying
prejudicial attitudes
▪ Expression of violence in writings ▪ Serious threats of violence.
and drawings
Penn State – Behavioral Threat Management Team
The Pennsylvania State University Behavioral Threat Management Team
is committed to the safety and well-being of the University community
through education, communication, planning, assessment, and
management toward the goal of mitigating behavioral threats.
To educate others on recognizing behavior that may be aggressive,
disruptive, or dangerous, and the risks associated with such behavior.
To effectively manage all incidents referred to the BTMT and all other
functions and processes associated with the threat analysis and
management process.
Penn State – Behavioral Threat Management Team
To provide methods for improving threat awareness and
communication related to concerning behavior, reporting options,
response protocols, and general team functions.
To implement a structured and effective system and process that
provides team planning regarding all functions of the team, including
but not limited to: community education, awareness and outreach,
incident response and threat analysis, violence de-escalation practices,
and program evaluation.
To assess overall program efforts and outcomes, and identify and discuss
campus environment trends that negatively affect the climate of our
community and influence policy development and resource allocation.
Criteria for Seeking Help
Dr. Simeo Munson the main criteria for contacting a pediatrician or child mental
health expert are:
When your child’s behavior chronically interferes with the order of the classroom or
family to the point of daily disruptions.
Is your child’s teacher continually calling you to talk about behavior issues, or
asking you to come to school and talk? This would include serious infractions at
school, such as punching, kicking, or pushing other kids repeatedly and
destroying school property.
If the teacher is unable to do his or her job because they are dealing with your
child’s behavior issues, it is time to seek outside help.
When the behavior interferes with your child’s ability to maintain friends. I am not
suggesting an inability to be popular or have loads of buddies, but rather,
when your child is actively disliked by their peer group or has no connections with other
children to the point of isolation. This is a cause for concern which you need to address
Criteria for seeking help continued…….
When the behavior interferes with your child’s ability to understand or grasp
schoolwork. Again, I’m not suggesting that struggling with learning to read
or being bored with a project in kindergarten means there’s a problem. If,
your child finds it so hard to concentrate that he or she can’t understand
the basic concepts appropriate for their developmental level, talk to his
or her pediatrician.
If you feel you have set all the appropriate limits on your child and they still
do not respond.
When you set limits, use consequences, coach and teach your child on
how to behave and nothing seems to be working, it’s time to seek
outside help.
Dr. Joan Simeo Munson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver.
Mental Health First Aid
Training on how to help someone in crisis
QPR Question, Persuade, Refer
Suicide prevention
Provider Healthcare Questionnaire (to screen for depression). Made by the US Preventative Care Task Force (volunteer experts in
the field)
Link to picture of brain from someone diagnosed with depression
National Geographic, “The Origins of Good and Evil”
Resources Continued
12 Questions Every Parent Should Ask - www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov
Advice on how to make conversations helpful, respectful - http://www.eachmindmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3.Say-This-Not-That-Tip-Sheet.pdf
Book on recognizing lack of insight into one’s disease
“I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Dr. Xavier Amador - Talks about the LEAP method
Texas School and Firearms Safety Plan - https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/School_Safety_Action_Plan_05302018.pdf
Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act - Sen. Bob Casey D-PA - Formed June 2018 - 50% of students age 18-24 report
severe psychiatric problems or feelings of hopelessness – NAMI survey
Representative Todd Stevens, Pennsylvania State Congress - Proposed Red Flag Law – allows a petition to the court to take a
person’s firearms if deemed unstable
Senator Patrick Brown, Pennsylvania State senator - Tipline for reporting possible school shooters
Resources Continued
Dörner, D. (1996). The logic of failure: Recognizing and avoiding error in
complex situations. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Fein, R.A., Vossekuil, B., Pollack, W.S., Borum, R., Modzeleski, W., & Reddy, M.
(2002). Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening
Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates. Washington, D.C.: United
States Secret Service and United States Department of Education