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Utilizing the Personal Safety Response Team

Utilizing the Personal Safety Response Team—Staff and Faculty

The mission of the Personal Safety Response Team (PSRT) is to support a safe working environment for staff and faculty at the University. While it is impossible to predict who will commit violence or when it will occur, it is possible to identify situations which might lead to violence. Early identification and intervention with appropriate resources or referrals to services can assist with coping strategies, reducing stress, and/or resolving problematic situations that helps reduce the risk of violence occurring.

Urgent and Imminent Threats

Step 1: Call 911.

Step 2: Report the situation to your supervisor or the head of your unit.

Step 3: Alert the Personal Safety Response Team

Potential or Suspected Threats

Step 1: Report the situation to the head of your unit.

Step 2: Supervisors and those seeking management assistance call 656-2241 for HRS Management Consulting Solutions (hrsconsulting@uvm.edu). Employees call HRS Employee Information and Advising Services at 656-3150.

Step 3: The Employee Assistance Program at 800-828-6025 is available for consultation and support.

What Happens Next: Intake

The PSRT meets to provide a coordinated review and response to non emergency calls of actual and potential threats of violence.

The PSRT will want to speak with you and/or your supervisor to find out:

  • what happened
  • when it happened
  • who was involved
  • whether there were injuries
  • whether the police were called
  • what the police did and what instructions they gave, if any

What Happens Next: Assessment

Depending on the situation, there may be immediate planning to identify whether Police Services needs to be involved or whether additional actions or recommendations may be made. Understanding the work context, behavior of the individual(s) and other factors will be taken into consideration.

The Personal Safety Response Team monitors outcomes and can reconvene the threat assessment team to re-evaluate a situation as necessary.

Direct Threat Behaviors:

Direct threat behaviors are prohibited and include acts in which one threatens violence; harasses or intimidates others; interferes with an individual's legal rights of movement or expression; or disrupts the workplace, and the ability to provide service to the public.

Examples of a direct threat:

  • Fighting
  • Destruction of property
  • Person makes a statement that they are suicidal or homicidal
  • Person makes a statement that they will harm someone
  • Person displays a gun, knife, or other instrument that could cause harm
  • Person makes a statement that they will go get a weapon
  • Person is out of control by yelling, screaming, flailing arms, or throwing dangerous objects
  • Warning Signs of Potential Violence

The following are some warning signs of potential violence that may be observed in the workplace. Knowing an employee's normal behaviors and observing signs in the workplace of unusual behavior changes, how he /she speaks about work, comments about self, statements about others or home life may present clues to potential violence. Recognizing potential workplace violence requires observation, information, and judgment. To assist you in this process it is helpful to have some understanding of what kind of warning signs to observe in the workplace. The behaviors listed may help you to determine the potential for violence, help you think before you act, and help you assess your own feelings about an employee in question.

Warning Signs of Potential Workplace Violence

  • Personal life stressors such as financial, marital, or family issues
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Increased frustration with one's circumstances
  • Increased belligerence
  • Obsession with a supervisor or coworker, perceiving unfair treatment
  • Recent marked decline in work performance
  • Less concern for appearance or personal hygiene
  • Changes in personality, mood, behavior
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism, confrontational, easily provoked, unpredictable,
  • Excessive crying
  • Preoccupation with weapons, antisocial behavior
  • Direct or veiled threats to harm self or others
  • Implicit threats such as "you'll be sorry" or "this isn't over"
  • Preoccupation with other workplace violent events
  • Chronic blaming with no sense of personal responsibility visits
  • Disregard of behavioral boundaries at work such as excessive emails, phone calls, and/or
  • Face-saving, attention-getting, manipulating, retaliating behaviors

Special acknowledgement to the University of Washington's HR web site on Violence Prevention for use of some material.

See the Overview of the Personal Safety Response Team.

Last modified January 22 2014 10:50 AM