Keeping Our Campus Safe

A Guide from the Rutgers University-Newark Threat Assessment Team (TAT)

Fall 2011

A.Why is Threat Assessment Necessary?

The 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech reminds all in higher education of the vulnerability of our college campuses.  Acts of violence and threats, whether from students or strangers, staff or faculty, can destroy the fabric of community and the well-being of the campus. Rutgers University- Newark is aware of the vulnerability of its open campus which is, in many ways, seamless with the Newark community. 

Although the campus has in place crisis management systems to help us recognize and respond to potentially threatening individuals or situations, we continue to assess the need to improve our processes and systems in order to evaluate campus safety and security to the best of our ability and to respond to the mental health needs of our students to prevent danger to them and to others. The following guidelines apply to all faculty, staff, students and visitors at the campus.

B. TAT Mission Statement

The Threat Assessment Team (TAT)is dedicated to a proactive, coordinated and planned approach to the identification, prevention, assessment, management, and reduction of interpersonal and behavioral threats to the safety and well being of the Rutgers Newark campus community.  The TAT is a multi-disciplinary team and component of the campus emergency management system.  The primary responsibility of the TAT is to address and respond to situations involving threats or acts of violence on campus involving students or employees.  Its membership is drawn from administrators charged with specific functions related to campus safety, as well as representatives of key campus constituencies.

C.TAT Goals

  • Identify and review response options, in consultation with police
  • Ensure effective implementation of appropriate crisis management and intervention protocols
  • Assess the post-event needs of the campus community
  • Undertake training for TAT members and campus personnel, as needed
  • Educate faculty, staff and students to the risk of interpersonal and workplace violence

D.Campus Members Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to immediately report any situation that could possibly result in harm to anyone at the university.  These reports may be directed to the Threat Assessment Team or the Campus Police depending on the nature of the concern. However, when there is an active or immediate risk of violence to self or others, the campus police should be contacted immediately at x5111 or dial 80 from any campus phone.

E. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are T.A.T. services?

Upon notification of a perceived threat, members of the Rutgers University-Newark TAT team will bring the matter forward for assessment and response.  TAT will also conduct post-event analysis to determine appropriate crisis management and interventions; and facilitate training and information for members of the campus community about the risks of interpersonal and workplace violence.

What is workplace violence?

Workplace violence is defined as any direct or implied threat, intentional act of other conduct that would arouse fear in a reasonable person for his or her own safety or the safety of others.  This includes:

  • Violent action
  • Threatening words or gestures
  • Stalking
  • Possession of weapons

What types of conduct should I report to the T.A.T.?                                             

Any member of the campus community may report conduct ranging from threatening or violent incidents, to stalking to suicidal threats or other implied risk or peril.  Urgent situations should be reported immediately to Campus Police at 973.353.5581.

What should I do if I think I am being threatened by someone on campus?  

Contact your supervisor or department head as soon as possible, or call the campus police immediately.  Remain calm as possible and do not attempt to confront the individual or engage in an argument.

What words are considered threatening?                                                                 

Any communication that implies that you are at risk of personal harm, including the following examples:

  • “I’m going to get you”  or “I’m going to kill you”
  • “You’ll be sorry”
  • “You never know when something might happen”
  • "Watch out for accidents”
  • “If you don’t do what I want, there will be trouble”

I have concerns about troubling behavior on the part of one of my students.  What should I do if a student threatens me or is engaged in threatening conduct in my classroom?

Faculty members should contact campus police whenever they believe a student may pose a risk of violence to self or others.  If in doubt, contact Vice Chancellor Marcia Brown or Assistant Vice Chancellor Gerald Massenburg at 973-353-5541.  A threat assessment may be needed and the student may be referred to Counseling or subject to judicial action or involuntary withdrawal.  If you believe the matter is urgent, always call police immediately at 973-353-5581.

I have concerns about a co-worker who confided that he/she is having difficulties at home and is showing increasing aggression.

Concerns about aggression in the workplace should be immediately reported to your supervisor, Human Resources (973-353-5500), Counseling (973-353-5805), or Campus Police (973-353-5581).  This includes threats or violent acts by terminated employees or employees who have threatened their co-workers, or employees who have threatened to commit suicide.  They too should likewise be reported.

How can I identify potentially violent students?

It is important to resist the urge to “profile” potentially violent students based on the media, or ethnic representations or past shootings.  All research investigations in this area indicate that there is no accurate or useful profile of a violent student or school shooter.  This is why we are engaged in threat assessment, which allows a multi-disciplinary team to analyze observable behavior, assess post-event incidents for violence prevention and utilize the expertise of law enforcement.  If the student needs to be removed, there are mechanisms available to do so.

I am a member of the faculty.  Should I talk with a student about my concerns?

Trying to find out what might be in the “heads” of students is a risky proposition.  While an effort at conversation is generally advisable, it is recommended that you exercise judgment on a case-by-case basis, primarily after consultation with colleagues, counseling, and public safety.

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