HRM-028: Preventing and Addressing Threats or Acts of Violence

Date: 07/13/2009 Status: Final
Last Revised: 07/13/2009
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Applies To: Academic Division.
Reason for Policy:

The University strictly prohibits threats or acts of violence by or against members of the University community to promote a safe environment for the University’s students, faculty, staff and visitors. This policy designates a committee responsible for coordinating the University’s violence prevention efforts. The policy also creates a threat assessment team model responsible for implementing the University’s assessment, intervention and action protocol in individual cases.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT):

    A group of senior University leaders who are assembled and directed by the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer to plan for, guide, respond to, and recover from a crisis. The CIMT is the team identified in the University’s Critical Incident Management Plan (CIMP).

  • Retaliation:

    Reprisal, interference, restraint, penalty, discrimination, intimidation or harassment, determined in accordance with applicable legal standards.

  • Threat Assessment Team:

    The TAT is the team required by Virginia Code §23.1-805 to implement the University’s assessment, intervention and action protocol.

  • University Facility:

    Any defined space of the University, including a room, lab, series of labs, building or controlled outdoor area.

  • University Property:

    Land or buildings that the University owns or leases and that is under the direct control of the Board of Visitors. University property also includes premises the University uses for activities of its offices, departments, personnel or students.

Policy Statement:

The University promotes a safe environment in which to learn and work by strictly prohibiting threats or acts of violence by or against members of the University community including, but not limited to the following:

  • Intentionally causing physical injury to self or another person;
  • Engaging in behavior that creates a risk of physical injury to self or another person (e.g., stalking);
  • Brandishing or using a firearm, weapon or other device in violation of law or University policy;
  • Intentionally damaging property;
  • Threatening to cause injury to self or another person, or to damage property; or
  • Other conduct prohibited by law or University policy (e.g., harassment).

The University prohibits threats and acts of violence on University property and within University facilities. In addition, the University prohibits threats or acts of violence at any University-sponsored event; while engaged in University business, educational or athletic activities; and while traveling in University vehicles. The University also will evaluate any conduct of which it becomes aware that occurs off-duty or outside the above-listed activities, when that conduct may impact an employee’s or student’s relationship with the University community.

The University will use a variety of strategies to educate members of the University community; identify, prevent and provide consequences for threats and acts of violence; and mitigate the effects of threats and acts of violence on victims.

Any member of the University who becomes aware of information that causes concern, apprehension, or suggests a potential risk of violence shall report that information to the University Police Department (UPD) for investigation.

No person who, in good faith, reports threatening or otherwise troubling behavior in accordance with this policy will be subject to retaliation.

  1. Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT):
    1. Mission:
      The University designates its CIMT as the committee required by Virginia Code §23-9.2:10(B) and charged by the Board of Visitors with oversight responsibility for education and prevention of violence at the University. The CIMT will assess regularly the University’s violence education and prevention policies, training, reporting, and intervention strategies and will adopt or modify University policies and procedures from time to time as needed. The CIMT will:

      • Coordinate guidance to students, faculty and staff that will assist them in recognizing threatening or abnormal behavior which may represent a threat to the University community;
      • Identify members of the University community to whom threatening behavior should be reported;
      • Coordinate policies and procedures for the assessment of persons whose behavior may present a threat, the appropriate means of intervention, and the sufficient means of action to resolve potential threats; and
      • Evaluate the effectiveness of the University’s violence prevention and education programs.
    2. Membership:
      The CIMT is convened by the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and coordinated by the Director of Emergency Preparedness. The CIMT membership will consist of those persons identified in the University’s CIMP and, as provided in the CIMP, may be expanded to include other University officials as needed.

  2. Threat Assessment Team (TAT):
    1. Mission:
      The TAT will convene to evaluate and address specific cases initiated under this policy. In doing so, the TAT will implement the University’s policies and procedures for the prevention of threats and acts of violence within the University community including, but not limited to the University’s assessment, intervention and action protocol. The TAT will collaborate with local and state law enforcement agencies, mental health agencies, and others as necessary to expedite the assessment and intervention when an individual’s behavior may present a threat to the safety of the University community.

    2. Membership:
      The TAT will be composed of representatives from the University Police Department (UPD), Student Health, Student Affairs, University Human Resources (UHR) and/or the Faculty & Employee Assistance Program, the Office of the General Counsel, and other University officials as needed.

  3. Identifying Abnormal or Troubling Behavior:
    The CIMT will coordinate the development of guidance for students, faculty and staff that will assist them in recognizing abnormal or troubling behaviors that are a cause for concern including, but not limited to depression, substance abuse, psychotic symptoms, serious academic or employment performance problems, or threats to the health or safety of self or another person. The University guidance will encourage students, faculty and staff to report troubling behaviors and to refer individuals for help from appropriate University resources. This guidance will be communicated through various channels to members of the University community.

    The responsibilities identified in this policy are intended to supplement – not supersede – education, prevention and disciplinary programs of other University departments and units.

  4. Reporting Abnormal or Troubling Behavior:
    Members of the University community are responsible for reporting abnormal or troubling behavior to the appropriate University department or office and providing all available information concerning the nature of the behavior and the individual:

    • Threats or acts of violence should be reported immediately to the University Police Department by calling 911 – when in doubt, call 911 and the call taker will evaluate the situation to determine an appropriate response;
    • Faculty or staff behavior that causes concern or apprehension, but is not an immediate threat or act of violence should be reported to UHR;
    • Student behavior that causes concern or apprehension, but is not an immediate threat or act of violence should be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS).

    No person who, in good faith, reports threatening or otherwise troubling behavior in accordance with this policy will be subject to retaliation.

    Reports and referrals under this policy will be handled discreetly to protect both the alleged victim and suspect and in accordance with all federal and state laws and other University policies.

  5. Initiation of Threat Assessment Team (TAT) Case:
    Upon receipt of a report of abnormal or troubling behavior that may suggest a potential risk of violence, UHR or ODOS will designate a TAT case leader, assemble appropriate members of the TAT to evaluate the report, and initiate a case. After initiating a case, the TAT will collect information, determine an appropriate intervention, and follow-up as necessary. Judgments about the relative seriousness of abnormal or troubling behavior will be made by the TAT which may have access to additional information not known by the University department or office making the initial report.

    All University departments and offices are expected to cooperate fully with members of the TAT. After referring an individual to UHR or ODOS for assessment by the TAT, the referring University office or department should contact and consult with the TAT case leader before taking any action toward the individual (e.g., disciplinary action) that may trigger or escalate the individual’s behavior. For purposes of accessing student records, members of the TAT are school officials with a legitimate educational interest in the information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    The TAT does not directly provide services or engage in the disciplinary process. Rather, the TAT will assign responsibility for further action to appropriate University resources and monitor the case as necessary.,/p>

    Any person who has been referred to the TAT for assessment may be required, as a condition of continued employment, enrollment or contract, to participate in a mental health evaluation. The mental health evaluation will be conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist with training in risk assessment that is acceptable to the University and the evaluation will be provided to the TAT. The evaluation will be maintained in confidence by the TAT.

    The TAT will document all reports, actions, referrals, and follow-up. In accordance with Virginia law, TAT meetings are closed meetings and all documents recorded in or compiled for use in any TAT meeting are exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

    At such point in time that a case no longer requires TAT action or monitoring, the TAT will close its case. A case may be re-initiated if circumstances change. After closing a case, the TAT will evaluate the case processing to determine whether changes in the process are needed to better address future cases.

  6. Enforcement of Law and University Policy:
    The University Police Department will investigate any report of violence, threats or any suspicious or alleged criminal conduct committed in any University facility or on University property.

    Any person violating federal or state law may be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    Any employee violating University policy will be subject to disciplinary action under the applicable Standards of Conduct or the Policy on Disciplinary Suspension and Termination of Academic Faculty up to and including termination.

    Any student violating University policy will be subject to disciplinary action under the Standards of Conduct in the Record and may be subject to the penalties provided therein including interim suspension or other separation from the University as appropriate.

  7. Support for Victims:
    The University will support victims of threats or acts of violence by:

    • Referring victims to appropriate University and community resources, such as law enforcement, health care facilities, counseling services, victim advocacy groups, legal aid, and domestic violence shelters;
    • Providing support for members of the University community who may have witnessed or been in close proximity to a threatening or violent incident;
    • Providing flexible work hours or short-term or extended leave, as provided under applicable University policies;
    • Taking other reasonable measures to accommodate affected members of the University community; and
    • Cooperating with law enforcement and prosecutors in accordance with federal and state law.

Any employee or student who obtains a court order of protection should make UPD aware of the existence of such order and provide to UPD a copy of the order and a photograph of the individual against whom the order was issued, if available.

Procedures:

Report faculty or staff behavior that causes concern or apprehension, but is not an immediate threat or act of violence, to UHR Consulting Services at 924-4598.

Report student behavior that causes concern or apprehension, but is not an immediate threat or act of violence, to the Office of the Dean of Students at 924-7133 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. After 5:00 p.m., contact the University Police Department at 924-7166 and ask to be referred to the Dean on Call.

Related Information:

University Policy:
HRM-009, Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment
HRM-010, Preventing and Addressing Retaliation
HRM-014, Standards of Conduct for University Staff Employees

IRM-013, Mass Text Messaging for Emergency Alerts

SEC-030, Regulation of Firearms, Weapons and Destructive Devices

STU-002, Rights of Students at the University of Virginia under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FEPRA)

Policy on Disciplinary Suspension and Termination of Academic Faculty
 

Additional Information:
Critical Incident Management Plan
Hoos Making a Safer Community at the University of Virginia
Policy on Disciplinary Suspension and Termination of Academic Faculty
Standards of Conduct for University Students

State Policy:
Policy 1.60, Standards of Conduct

Major Category: Human Resource Management
Category Cross Reference: Safety, Security and Environmental Quality
Approved by, Date: Policy Review Committee, 07/13/2009
Revision History: Revised 7/13/09.
Supersedes (previous policy):
Workplace Violence/Hostility Policy