Violence and Threat Management Policy

Title:  Violence and Threat Management Policy
Effective Date:  September 1, 2012
Revision Date: June 22, 2018
Responsible Office: Violence Prevention Committee

I. Scope

This policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, temporary and contract workers, and volunteers (collectively, members of the campus community) of William & Mary, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the university). 

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to help keep members of the William & Mary community safe.   The policy implements the commitment in the university’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that members of our community will enjoy “freedom from personal force or violence [and] threats of violence.” 

The policy helps the university comply (i) with the Virginia Threat Assessment Law, Section 23.1-805 of the Code of Virginia, pursuant to which it has established a Threat Assessment Team (TAT) to identify individuals of concern, assess each individual brought to the attention of TAT, and to manage situations and individuals who are deemed to pose a threat of targeted violence, and (ii) with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which, as amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, requires policies prohibiting sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking.

III. Definitions

Acts of violence: behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone or something. Examples include:

  • intentionally causing physical injury to another or self;
  • sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking, each as defined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy;
  • intentionally damaging property;
  • brandishing or using a weapon in a manner not required by the individual’s position (see also the university’s Weapons on Campus Policy and Regulation); and
  • inciting or aiding any of the above.

Concerning Behaviors:  a range of behaviors and/or conduct that may or may not lead to acts of violence. The following are examples of the type of behaviors that may be concerning:

  • references to planning a violent or destructive event or harming others;
  • preoccupation with weapons, violent events, or persons who have engaged in violent acts;
  • intimidating, disruptive or alarming conduct, such as extreme and inappropriate reactions or responses, angry outbursts, and changes in behavior;
  • suicidal comments or threats;
  • expression of excessive or obsessive feelings of rejection, desperation, despair, victimization, or perceived injustices; and
  • abuse of drugs or alcohol or change in pattern of use of drugs or alcohol in connection with other concerning behaviors.

Sexual Misconduct Policy: the Policy on Sexual Harassment and Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking, which applies to all members of the university community. 

TAT: the Threat Assessment Team, established by the Board of Visitors pursuant to state law to assess threats to the campus community and to take remedial action as necessary. Membership is determined by the President consistent with Virginia Code Section 23.1-805(D). University Counsel serves as a legal advisor to TAT.  As of April 2018, the members of TAT include the following individuals or their representatives:

  • Chief of William & Mary Police (Chair)
  • Dean of Arts & Sciences
  • Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs
  • Dean of Students
  • Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Chief Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator
  • Director of the Counseling Center
  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Associate Vice President for Health & Wellness.

Threat: language or behavior that (1) threatens physical injury to another or intentional damage to property and (2) has the effect of intimidating, frightening, coercing, or provoking others, using a reasonable person standard.  A threat can be verbal or nonverbal.  It can be communicated orally, in writing, through gestures, or by any other means, including electronic transmission.  It can be communicated directly to an intended recipient or through a third party.  

IV. Policy: Duty to Report

This Section IV describes reporting protocols for threats, acts of violence, and concerning behaviors.  In all cases, the appropriate administrative body will evaluate the report in context as described below in Section VI to determine whether there is a need for further inquiry or additional threat assessment.  The identity of individuals making reports will be protected and information will be handled confidentially; see Section IX.

A. Reporting Threats and Acts of Violence 

The university does not tolerate acts of violence or threats by members of the campus community. Therefore, all members of the campus community must report acts of violence or threats by or against members of the university community occurring: 

  • on campus or property owned or controlled by the university (university property);
  • in the context of a university employment or educational program or activity;
  • off-campus and adversely impacting a university employee’s ability to perform his or her assigned duties and responsibilities or a student’s ability to access educational programs or services; or
  • through use of university resources, such as workplace telephones or e-mail.

How to Report:

  1. Individuals witnessing conduct or behavior that they believe poses an imminent threat to safety, security or health should call 9-1-1 immediately.
  2. Reports of sexual misconduct should be made to the Title IX Coordinator, and may also be reported to the William & Mary Police. For full reporting options, visit the sexual violence website at http://www.wm.edu/sexualviolence
  3. Reports of other acts of violence or threats should be brought to the attention of the William & Mary Police Department by calling WMPD at (757) 221-4596. Faculty, staff and students may also contact any of the individual members of TAT. A listing of contact information for TAT members is available at https://www.wm.edu/offices/compliance/policies/violence_threat_management/temp_tat_roster/index.php.

The duty to report threats and acts of violence is in addition to other reporting obligations that employees may have under the Crime Reporting Policy, Discrimination Policy, or Sexual Misconduct Policy. 

B. Reporting Concerning Behaviors

Employees, students and other members of the campus community are encouraged to bring concerning behaviors to the attention of the appropriate administrative body as follows:

  • If the concern is about a student, community members are encouraged to file a “Care” report with the Dean of Students Office. The Care Team will then assess whether the concern needs to be reported to TAT.
  • If the concern is about an employee or third party, community members are encouraged to bring the matter to TAT directly by emailing the team at [[TAT]]. Alternatively, employees may bring concerns to the Campus Police.

V. Threat Assessment Process 

A. Fact-Based Threat Assessment

TAT will take timely and appropriate action to deal with threats to the campus community, consistent with university policy and applicable law.  TAT is responsible for conducting a fact-based behavioral threat assessment inquiry to determine whether a person-of-concern is on a path toward or away from harmful of violent behavior, the level of risk that currently exists for harm or violent behavior, and the need for managed assistance or intervention.

When the Threat Assessment Team first learns about a student, faculty member, staff member, or third party who has engaged in violent, threatening, or potentially threatening behaviors or whose conduct or actions raise concerns about their potential for violence or suicide, TAT will follow the Threat Assessment Process outlined in Appendix A. Under the Process, a standard set of behavioral threat assessment factors guide threat assessment inquiries and investigations.[1] Generally, the threat assessment process includes one or more members of TAT confidentially gathering relevant information about the acts of violence or concerning behaviors; if more than a limited confidential inquiry is necessary and the person of concern is a W&M faculty or staff member, the information-gathering process typically would include providing the person of concern with an opportunity to meet with a TAT member or representative.

In addition, the Virginia Threat Assessment Law provides that upon a preliminary determination that an individual poses a threat of violence to self or others or exhibits significantly disruptive behavior or a need for assistance, the threat assessment team may obtain criminal history record information as provided in §§ 19.2-389 and 19.2-389.1 and health records as provided in § 32.1-127.1:03.[2]  Inquiries likely to elicit information about a disability will be made in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, as applicable.[3]

Members of the campus community are expected to cooperate with TAT when TAT initiates a threat assessment inquiry or investigation. TAT will make a recommendation for managed assistance or intervention based on the information available to TAT. Therefore, when an individual cooperates with TAT in the threat assessment process, TAT is better able to make recommendations for such managed assistance or intervention.  

B. Risk Reduction Plan 

If TAT determines that action is necessary to minimize or eliminate a threat, TAT will develop an individualized Risk Reduction Plan and consider whether any interim measures are warranted, such as a ban from campus or referral to appropriate resources such as the Employee Assistance Program.  Risk Reduction Plans generally seek to protect the community through one or more of the following approaches:

  • Supporting or intervening with the person of concern, to avoid progression on a path to violence;
  • Decreasing the vulnerabilities of the target(s);
  • Modifying physical and cultural environment to discourage escalation; and
  • Preparing for and mitigating against precipitating events that may trigger adverse reactions.

Once TAT develops the recommended risk reduction plan, TAT will work with the appropriate campus officials to implement the recommendations and monitor the case.  While the case is open, TAT will:

  • Continue to monitor and modify the plan in response to new developments or information;
  • Recognize that the person can continue to pose a threat even after he/she ceases to be a member of the campus community; and
  • Continue to monitor the situation through its relationship with local law enforcement agencies and mental health agencies, as well as in direct cooperation with the person, if possible.

Threat management cases should remain open until the person in question is no longer reasonably assessed to pose a threat or in need of case management and/or monitoring. 

C. Reservation of Law Enforcement Authority 

This policy in no way limits the lawful authority of any campus, local, state or federal law enforcement agent to take lawful action to protect the safety of the campus community.

VI. Disciplinary Process 

TAT is not a disciplinary body.  If TAT is aware of behavior that constitutes misconduct or may violate applicable law, TAT may refer the matter for potential disciplinary action or police action.  For example, if a student threatens to harm another student, that threat would be a potential violation of the Student Code of Conduct as well as a police matter.  Any disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with applicable policies and procedures, which include this policy, the Policy on Campus No Contact Orders and Orders of Protection, the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Employee Discrimination Grievance/Complaint Procedure and others applicable to specific categories of employees or students:

  • For students, the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Grievance/Complaint Procedure;
  • For operational and classified employees, the State Standard of Conduct (DHRM Policy 1.60, the progressive discipline policy that classifies violence and threats as a Group III offense);
  • For professional employees, the Policy on Appointments and Termination of Professionals and Professional Faculty (pdf) (which applies in cases of termination) and management practices used to address less serious instances of misconduct;
  • For executive employees, the Employment Policy for Executives (which applies in cases of termination) and management practices used to address less serious instances of misconduct;
  • For faculty, the Faculty Handbook, which establishes procedures to address alleged misconduct by faculty.

These policies and procedures generally specify potential sanctions (discipline) and allow for interim measures to be taken in specified situations. When disciplinary action is being considered, TAT will work with the appropriate university offices (i) to ensure that the broader safety concerns are addressed and (ii) to avoid actions that could increase the potential threat.

VII. Training, Education & Awareness Programs

The Violence Prevention Committee is responsible for coordinating with the appropriate university offices to implement violence prevention/education procedures and programs and to provide guidance to students, faculty and staff regarding policies, protocols and procedures related to violence prevention, threat assessment, and reporting.[4] In this respect:

  • Student Affairs will coordinate violence prevention training, education and awareness programs for students, residence life, and first-year experience staff;
  • The Office of Human Resources in conjunction with the Provost will coordinate violence prevention training, education and awareness programs for faculty and staff; and
  • The Office of Compliance and Equity will coordinate sexual violence prevention and awareness programs for the campus community.

VIII. Confidentiality; Retaliation Protection

Information brought to the attention of TAT will be handled with the utmost discretion and confidentially.  Any threat assessment records generated by TAT are held in strictest confidence and will not be maintained with other university record systems such as employment, personnel, academic, student, medical, or mental health records.  In accordance with Virginia law, no member of TAT may redisclose any criminal history record information or health information obtained pursuant to their threat assessment processes or otherwise use any record of an individual beyond the purpose for which such disclosure was made to TAT.[5]  Information held by a threat assessment team is exempt from public records disclosure requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. 

Retaliation against any member of the campus community for reporting an act or threat of violence or concerning behavior is a violation of this policy and subject to disciplinary action.  The university will take immediate action to address any retaliation brought to its attention. 

IX. Authority, Implementation, and Amendment

This policy is approved by the President.  It was amended effective June 22, 2018, including updates to TAT membership, revisions of definitions to conform with the Sexual Misconduct Policy, addition of detail regarding the threat assessment process, and clarification of the relationship of TAT to disciplinary processes. 

The Violence Prevention Committee is responsible for interpreting and overseeing implementation of this policy, and may make minor amendments such as to update contact information and policy references. 

X. Related Policies, Procedures and Other Documents 

Appendix A: Threat Assessment Process
Weapons on Campus Policy and Regulation
Crime Reporting Policy
Sexual Misconduct Policy
Discrimination, Retaliation and Harassment Policy
Student Code of Conduct
Employee Standards of Conduct (DHRM Policy 1.60, applies to classified and operational employees)
Workplace Violence Policy (DHRM Policy 1.80, applies to classified and hourly employees)

 


[1] The risk factors and considerations used by TAT for decision making are based on industry standards.  The standard set of behavioral threat assessment factors used by TAT in its threat assessment process is available at https://www.wm.edu/offices/compliance/policies/_documents/tat_process_risk_factors.pdf.

[2] Virginia Code 12.2-389, Dissemination of Criminal History Record Information, Section A(25), and Virginia Code 19.2-389.1, Dissemination of Juvenile Record Information, provide that such information shall be disseminated to “[m]embers of a threat assessment team…for the purpose of assessing or intervening with an individual whose behavior may present a threat to safety” subject to the redisclosure prohibitions discussed in Section VIII of this policy. 

The Virginia Health Records Privacy Act, Virginia Code 32.1-127.1:03(D)(35), provides that health care entities shall disclose health records (each as defined in Section (B) of the Act) to threat assessment teams.

[3] The ADA provides that “disability-related inquiries” may be made only in limited circumstances, including when, on the basis of an individualized assessment, the individual is believed to pose a significant risk of substantial harm.  

[4] See Sections 23.1-805(B) and (C) of the Code of Virginia.

[5] 23.1-805(F) of the Code of Virginia.