Threat Assessment Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the team?
The purpose of the team is to facilitate timely communication among different campus departments about behavioral concerns related to students, employees, visitors, and other affiliated as well as non-affiliated persons, in order to identify individuals in distress as early as possible. Having this central repository of information will allow the team to recommend interventions and case management strategies that connect community members with needed resources and de-escalate any threat to the community. The purpose of this team is not to profile individuals or target community members for disciplinary actions or sanctions; rather the team’s goal is to use the expertise of team members to accurately identify threats and defuse them in a timely manner.
Who is on the threat assessment team?
The Threat Assessment Team is a multidisciplinary team composed of individuals from various constituencies on campus to allow for effective collaboration and coordination of efforts. Team members include representatives from: Public Safety, Community Living, Student Life, the Faculty, Human Resources, as well as mental health professionals and legal counsel.
The Threat Assessment Team for evaluating a staff or faculty member is made up of a human resources representative, counselor, public safety representative, and our general counsel.
Who can make a referral to the threat assessment team?
Anyone who feels an individual is a threat to him/herself/others, or is exhibiting concerning, disruptive, or worrisome behaviors, can make a referral, including students, parents, faculty, staff and other community members.
What kinds of behavior should I report to the threat assessment team?
All concerns requiring immediate attention (potentially criminal activity, violent, threatening, or imminent suicidal behavior) should first be directed to emergency services, by calling 911 and then the Office of Public Safety at 410-337-6112.
If a member of the Goucher community (student, staff, or faculty) or a visitor to the campus behaves in a way that is concerning, disruptive, worrisome, or poses a potential threat to the safety and well-being of the campus community or any member of it, such behaviors should be reported to the threat assessment team.
Experience shows that tragedies affecting college campuses (for example the Virginia Tech tragedy) are often preceded by warning signs or patterns of behavior. Early communication and intervention may help to prevent an escalation of behaviors to critical levels. Therefore, report any behavior that is troubling or makes you concerned. It is better to be safe than sorry: if you have a "gut feeling" that something is not quite right, report it.
What do I do if I know someone that may need to be referred to the threat assessment team?
- If you believe that the person may pose a threat of imminent danger of harm to him/herself or to others, call 911 and then contact the Office of Public Safety.
- To make a referral to the threat assessment team, click on one of the two TAT reporting form links. You will be asked for basic information about the person of concern, a description of the incident or behaviors that prompted you to make a referral, and your contact information. Anonymous referrals are accepted but discouraged. Identifying yourself assists the team if clarification or additional information is needed. Submitting your name also gives the referral more credibility.
- You are the threat assessment team's best resource because you are familiar with the individual or directly observed the concerning behavior. If you want to speak with a member of the team before submitting a referral you should call 410-337-3111 and ask to speak to any member of the Team.
What happens to the information I send to the threat assessment team?
The team receives and prioritizes the information, then immediately begins further investigation. You will likely be contacted for clarification and additional information if you have included your contact information in the report. Often the initial report is just one piece of the puzzle. A behavior that someone observes can turn out to be an isolated incident and no cause for further concern, or it may be an indication of a larger problem that needs to be addressed. The team attempts to understand the whole of a person's behavior patterns before making any recommendations for action.
Is the information kept confidential?
All Threat Assessment Team information will be considered strictly confidential and will only be released within established Goucher College guidelines and legal mandates as necessary to accomplish the Threat Assessment Team mission. All team members understand and agree that confidentiality is mandated and inappropriate divulgence of TAT information is strictly prohibited.
I am not really sure this is a big deal. Will the person get in trouble?
Something that may appear to be a minor incident to you may be part of a larger pattern unknown to you. Early and effective communication among key offices and individuals is crucial to identifying problems before they get bigger. The guiding mission of the threat assessment team is that of early intervention in order to understand what is happening and try to intervene before a situation escalates and attempt to resolve a situation BEFORE someone "gets in trouble." The goal is to promote the safety of the individual and campus through early intervention. The team takes into account the concerns of the campus, as well as the needs of the student, faculty, or staff member about whom concerns are expressed. Whether the information will adversely affect the individual's student or employment status will depend on the situation. Frequently, when a situation is identified early enough and reported it can be resolved without the need for disciplinary action or criminal prosecution against the person involved. If you are unsure about whether or not you should say something, report it! Trust your instincts.
What if I am wrong about the person?
You are reporting a concern based on an observed behavior (e.g., verbal exchange, hostile interaction, etc.), not making a determination or judgment about the individual. There is no expectation that reporters make judgments about whether their observations are "right" or "wrong." Let the team weigh all the information available, gather further data if warranted and determine the best course of action. Goucher College does not permit retaliation against any individual who reports a concerning or troubling behavior in good faith.
Will the person I refer be able to know that I sent the form? Can I report a concern anonymously?
Anonymous referrals are accepted but discouraged. The team will attempt to handle all matters discreetly, but cannot guarantee that the person(s) involved will not be able to determine the source of the report. Goucher will not attempt to determine the identity of an anonymous reporter unless there is an imminent threat of harm or the reporting system is being abused. Goucher College does not permit retaliation against any individual who reports a concerning or troubling behavior in good faith.
Will I find out what happens?
That depends on the situation. Various privacy and confidentiality laws apply to the situations handled by the team. A member of the team will follow up with the person making the referral when appropriate and possible to let you know the continuing action or closed status of the referral.
Does FERPA prohibit faculty and staff from disclosing student information to the team?
No. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) expressly permits the sharing of any and all information from you to the team.
What authority does the threat assessment team have and what can it do?
The team does not enact sanctions or administer policy regarding referrals; however, the team can:
- develop specific strategies to manage potential harmful or disruptive behavior to protect both the safety and rights of the both the individual and the Goucher community.
- assist faculty or staff in developing a plan of action to minimize the threat and assist the person of concern in obtaining necessary resources.
- recommend medical/psychological evaluation and or request permission to receive such records.
- coordinate and share information with other offices on campus that may take actions such as:
- evaluation for immediate emergency response (by the police or other outside agencies),
- provision of continued support to the individual (e.g., academic advising, Student Administrative Services, ACE, mental health services, etc.),
- emergency notification of others, and/or
- parental/guardian notification.