UNMC policies provide for quick response in face of threats

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | July 23, 2013

Image with caption: Gary Svanda

Gary Svanda

Being on the receiving end of a threat can be frightening.

But at UNMC, there are structures and procedures in place to assure threats are properly investigated and the campus is kept safe, said Gary Svanda, director of campus security.

"It is natural for people to feel the need to talk to someone in their department or human resources if they feel threatened," Svanda said. "While that is understandable, it is important that security also be notified immediately to respond to any threatening or alarming situation on campus."

In the face of recent events in Omaha, UNMC faculty, students and staff should know that there is an established process and a place to turn to in the face of threats, said Deb Thomas, associate vice chancellor for business and finance.

"And like everything we do for safety on campus, it's integrated with our partners -- The Nebraska Medical Center, UNMC Physicians and Clarkson College," she added.

Any threat-related report will be evaluated and, if appropriate, the Threat Assessment Response Team will be convened to conduct an initial evaluation.

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The team will assess what preliminary information exists or needs to be collected such as:

  • interviews to determine the existence of corroborating evidence and determine if it is a verifiable and credible threat;
  • student disciplinary/judicial history;
  • relevant employment records; and
  • other relevant information as deemed appropriate to assure the safety of the university community.

What is a threat?

A threat can be defined as a situation where students, faculty, staff, visitors, patients or others on campus are reported to either be displaying disruptive or threatening behaviors or making threats that potentially endanger their own or others' health and safety. 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. This information should be forwarded to campus security at 559-5111.

The team will evaluate the information gathered and determine the best way to respond to the threat, which may include the following actions (non-inclusive):

  • recommend/implement appropriate immediate action, possibly including:
    • issuance of a ban and bar order;
    • suspension of employment or academic studies;
    • referral to law enforcement for criminal charges or mental health hold;
    • requirement of psychological evaluation;
    • ongoing monitoring for follow-up and observation of behavior patterns; and/or
    • referral to appropriate on or off campus behavioral health services.
  • determine and execute an appropriate and timely communications plan to campus and media;
  • notify, within guidelines of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents, guardians and/or next-of-kin (if a student);
  • coordinate and assess information from faculty, administrators, students, and local authorities;
  • notify individuals if a specific threat was made against them; and
  • evaluate outcomes of actions taken.

"People on this campus are very safety conscious," Thomas said, "and we have taken a lot of steps to keep the campus a safe place for everyone."

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