Frequently Asked Questions
The Threat Assessment Team is a group of trained professionals from different departments across campus who discuss and evaluate behaviors of concern that could precede a violent event. This could be violence to self, others, campus, or the Virginia Tech community. This team addresses behaviors of concern and provides resources to help keep the Virginia Tech campus a safe working and learning environment.
Virginia Tech has a team to allow campus officials from different departments to address concerning behaviors and act quickly to prevent targeted acts of violence. The Team was established in December 2007 by President Steger in Policy Memorandum 251. This Team also meets the requirements of Virginia State Code §23-9.2:10.
The team meets weekly and as needed for specific situations.
Most reports come from Human Resources, University Legal Counsel, Virginia Tech Police reports or the Care Team. The Care Team is a group separate from the Threat Assessment Team that is convened by the Dean of Students Office. The Care Team is a student assistance team that coordinates a timely response to student emergencies.
This team was appointed by President Steger in Policy Memorandum 251. In his appointment letter, he states that the team has full authority to act on behalf of the university.
Team members have been to many national threat assessment trainings. Topics covered at trainings have included development of threat assessment teams, legal implications, suicide, mental health illness, and inter-cultural communication. Additionally, national threat assessment expert Dr. Gene Deisinger was hired in August 2009 as Deputy Chief of Police & Director of Threat Management Services and established the team.
Cases are NOT managed on a first-come, first served basis. All cases are triaged and the most imminent cases are managed first. All cases, regardless of the immediacy, will be reviewed and managed in the manner most appropriate for the situation.
Records that are created as part of a Threat Assessment Team inquiry are maintained by the Virginia Tech Police Department and protected as investigative records.
The Threat Assessment Team deals with anyone (student, employee, non-affiliated) who may pose a threat to the Virginia Tech Community. The Care Team is a student assistance team designed to aid students with any problems that may arise during his/her time as a student. While the two teams are separate entities, a few key administrators serve on both teams. An incident may first be reviewed on one team, and then during the discussion it becomes apparent that it should be on the other team. The case is then moved to the agenda of the other team for management. As a reporting party, you do not need to decide where you should share your concern; once you share your concern, the information will be forwarded to the appropriate team.
If something happens at a Commonwealth Campus Center, Outreach location, or other Virginia Tech owned or leased space away from Blacksburg that impacts the safety of those involved, please share the concerns with the Threat Assessment Team. The team can work with you and the local police to address the situation. If the situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately for the local police and then notify the VT Threat Assessment Team.
You matter to the team because you interact with people on campus and can notice a change in their behavior. A change in behavior is one of the first indicators that something is wrong and the person needs assistance.
You should share what you know with the team when you feel the individual needs intervention or assistance. The earlier the team receives information, the more options we have to assist the person you are concerned about.
Profiling is commonly used as an investigative tool after a crime is committed to describe the type of person likely to commit that particular crime. Threat assessment is designed to be a preventative process used to identify warning signs and intervene before someone commits a crime.
Threat assessment is designed to connect people in distress with necessary resources to help them deal with the stressors in their lives. This team is designed to prevent a wide array of harm on campus-- not just the next school shooter.
Anyone can report a concerning behavior, and our team encourages you to share any information you have. You may not feel like you have all of the information, but you don’t need to. Let our trained team gather all relevant information and help the person, if needed. The earlier you share your information with us, the more resources we have to assist the person you are concerned about.
After a report is made, the team will gather information, review the information, and formulate a plan. Depending on the situation, someone from the team may contact the person you are concerned about. The person will likely identify themselves by their university title and not as a member of “The Threat Assessment Team.”
After we receive the initial information, a member of the team will check with offices across campus to determine if other concerning behaviors are being displayed by the person you are concerned about. The team will discuss the behaviors of concern and create an action plan to assist the individual, if needed. Some cases will require no further action, and some cases will be referred to a specific office on campus for monitoring or provision of services.
If you provide contact information, someone will contact you to let you know that we received your concern and are reviewing it. If a specific department or office is involved with the situation, they will be notified, as appropriate.
As the reporting party, you can expect that someone will contact you about your concern to see if you have any additional information. Due to the confidentiality of most cases, only some information is likely to be shared with you. But as a reporting party, you serve an important role in the monitoring of the situation because of your interaction with the subject. We would like to have you as an ally in this process to inform us if the management plan with the individual plan is working. If you have shared a concern, and see no change in behavior, or continue to be worried about the situation, please contact the Threat Assessment Team coordinator at (540) 231-7194.
Most importantly, the person you are concerned about will receive assistance if you share your concern. The information you provide will be evaluated to determine what action is necessary to address the situation. If necessary, the team will contact the individual to provide assistance. Only in extenuating circumstances will the team identify you when talking with the person you are concerned about.
It may not seem serious to you, but you may only know part of the story. Remember this phrase: “It may be nothing, but…” Your concern may turn out to be nothing, but it also may be something very important. Let our team decide if the person you know needs assistance. If you share your concern with us, you will not get the person in trouble; you will allow the team to help him or her.
No, you do not need to have evidence to share a concern. Oftentimes if something doesn’t seem right, or you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, your concern needs to be shared. The team will review the situation and act in the best interest of the person.
You don’t need to try to identify a violent person. All you need to look for is a change in someone’s behavior that seems odd or unusual for that person. Here are some typical indicators of potential concern that someone might need assistance.
The team will review all concerns that are shared. If your concern turns out to be nothing, nothing will happen to the person, and nothing will happen to you. If you intentionally create a false report, you may be subject to university sanctions.
You do not need to tell the person you are sharing information with the team. Let the team review the situation, and the team will address it with him/her if necessary.
We try to keep your identity private, but we can not guarantee that your identity will remain confidential. The team, in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Police, will work with you to ensure your safety through the process.
If you provide contact information, we can contact you to let you know we are addressing your concern. You are encouraged to identify yourself because you can assist the team if clarification or additional information is needed. Anonymous entries will be evaluated based on the information provided. However, providing incomplete information may not allow the individual to receive the help or resources needed.
When people remain part of the Virginia Tech community, on-campus resources are available to them, and campus administrators are in contact with them to provide support they might not have if they were removed from campus. If the situation warrants removing the person from campus, the appropriate steps will be taken to do so. Removal from campus is only implemented in certain situations and done after proper information has been gathered and reviewed.
If you are aware of concerning behavior happening off campus that could affect the safety of the VT community, please share your concern with the Virginia Tech Police.
If the situation warrants reviewing the case after the subject leaves the area, the team will continue to do so. It is important to remember that when the subject has relationships in his/her life, there is a lesser chance for violence to occur. A failure to communicate or interact with a subject encourages problems to fester, which could lead to violence.