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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention

Policy Number: 39

Subject:

Preventing and reporting violence, threats of violence, and behaviors and situations of concern on or off campus that may pose a risk to the university community

Scope:

All university community members

Date Reviewed:
August 2020
Responsible Office:
The University of Texas Police - Houston; Human Resources; Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
Responsible Executive:
Chief of Police; Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer

I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

It is the policy of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) to maintain a safe and businesslike environment free from violence and to address behaviors and situations of concern. Employees, students, residents, patients, clients, vendors, contractors and visitors are expected to treat everyone in the workplace and both on and off with civility, respect and professionalism.

This policy prohibits direct or indirect threats or acts of violence or hostility that place the safety or well-being of others in jeopardy as well as behaviors of concern that are likely to endanger the university; makes mandatory the reporting of threats or incidents of violence and behaviors or situations of concern; and requires cooperation in the investigation of allegations.

This policy also prohibits all firearms and other weapons defined as prohibited by the Texas Penal Code on property owned or occupied by the university, except as permitted applicable law (see also campus carry guidelines and HOOP 222, Concealed Handguns on Campus).

Violations of this policy may lead to disciplinary action up to, and including, termination for employees; discipline and/or dismissal of students and residents; cancellation of contracts with vendors and contractors; refusal of services to patients, clients, and visitors; and, when applicable, the pursuit of criminal actions.

Note: Direct or indirect threats or acts of violent behavior by a patient at The University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Hospital ("UTHCPC") will be reported and handled through the appropriate UTHCPC Policies & Procedures.

II. DEFINITIONS

Incident: Any occurrence of perceived violence or threat of violence or other behavior or situation of concern.

Violence and behaviors of concern: Includes, but is not limited to, verbal or non-verbal behavior that can be construed as intimidating, threatening or hostile, physical or verbal abuse, harassment, stalking, vandalism, arson, sabotage, use of weapons, possession of weapons on university property, the threat of any of the above, or any other act inconsistent with this policy.

Threat: An intent and ability to inflict physical or other harm on any person or self or on property. Threats may be oral, written, or physical and typically fall into three categories: Direct, Conditional, or Veiled.

  • Direct - Threats against a specific target, sometimes describing methods for committing violence.
  • Conditional - Threats contingent upon a certain set of circumstances (often uses the "if" term).
  • Veiled - Threats that are vague and subject to multiple interpretations.

University campus/workplace: includes all university facilities, University Housing and off-campus locations (including regional campuses) where faculty, students, staff, agents or contractors are engaged in university business or activities.

STOP Team­­ Sometimes referred to as a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) or a Threat Management Team, is a team of professionals authorized to facilitate the  investigation and work with management to take action to prevent and resolve incidents of violence and behaviors of concern. The team is comprised of representatives from The University of Texas Police - Houston (UTP-H), Legal Affairs, Office of Employee Assistance Programs, Student Counseling, Human Resources, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, and the Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer. The STOP Team has the authority to include, as needed, representatives from other areas. The STOP Team has the authority to oversee and manage activities and program(s) to ensure the effectiveness of university-wide initiatives to prevent, detect and respond to behavioral risks and threats.

The responsibilities  of the STOP Team include:

  • Prevention and education including new student/employee orientation; awareness and skills sessions such as education on intimate partner violence, personal safety and de-escalation skills; and safety evaluations of the workplace performed by UTP-H;
  • Assessment of the level of threat for incidents reported to the STOP Team, including gathering and managing reported information from concerned members of the university and clinical practice community and assessing the level of threat or the disruption of activities based on university conduct and/or academic policies;
  • Consultation with members of the university community affected by violence or behaviors of concern regarding strategies to prevent and address current risk;
  • Coordination with relevant offices and schools for investigation, remediation and follow-up (g., the Office of Institutional Compliance);
  • Development of strategies to manage threatening behaviors with regard to the safety and rights of others while minimizing any negative impact to the university community;
  • Incident tracking and case management; and
  • Reporting on trends with respect to incidents of violence or behaviors of concern.

III. PROCEDURE

     A. Responsibilities

1. Supervisors and faculty are responsible and accountable for setting the example and maintaining work and educational environments free from violence, threats or other behaviors or situations of concern. Supervisors and faculty should be alert for warning signs of potentially violent behavior and should take appropriate action to address any violations (see HOOP Policies 153 Termination of Employment: Administrative and Professional, 133 Faculty Termination, 187 Discipline and Dismissal of Classified Employees, 186 Student Conduct and Discipline, 59 Sex-based Discrimination, Harassment & Misconduct, 87, Reporting Criminal Activity to Campus Police, 163 Fitness for Participation (Students); and HOOP 218 Fitness for Duty/Fitness for Participation (Employees). This intervention may be through either non-disciplinary procedures (e.g., counseling or written warning) or appropriate disciplinary actions.  Supervisors and faculty are required to report behaviors or situations of to the STOP Team even when they believe they have effectively addressed the issues.

2. Employees, students, residents, patients, clients, vendors, contractors and visitors are responsible for conducting themselves in accordance with this and other applicable policies.

     B. Reporting of Incidents

All incidents, threats of violence, violent acts or other behavioral risks or situations of concern must be reported as follows:

          1. Imminent Threats

In the event of a threat of imminent bodily harm, injury or use of a weapon, the reporting individual should seek protective cover and call 911 immediately. Once the situation is safe, the reporting individual must report the incident to his or her supervisor, the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs (if related to students) or the Office of Graduate Medical Education (if related to residents) and to UTP-H, if not already notified. The supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education is responsible for reporting the incident to the STOP Team (713-792-7867). If the supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education is unavailable, the individual should report the incident directly to the STOP Team (713-792-7867).

         2. Non-Imminent Threats

Incidents or acts of violence not involving imminent bodily harm, injuries or weapons should be immediately reported to the supervisor, the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education. The supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education is responsible for reporting the incident to the STOP Team (713-792-7867).

UTP-H will present all STOP Team reports and the outcome, if known, to the STOP Team. The STOP Team will assist the relevant persons or offices to assess, investigate, determine violations and make recommendations.

If requested, the Office of Employee Assistance Programs or Student Health and Counseling may schedule stress debriefing with an employee(s), resident(s) and/or student(s) affected by any incidence of violence, threat of violence or other behaviors or situations of concern.

Even without the existence of an actual threat or act of violence, employees, students and residents should report any behavior that they regard as threatening.

     C. Court Orders

Employees, students and residents should notify their supervisors, the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education of any applicable protective or peace orders against individuals who might appear in the workplace or on campus. Upon receipt of this notification, the supervisor, appropriate Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Graduate Medical Education should consult with UTP-H (713-792-2890).

     D. Prevention

The university strives to prevent violence in the workplace as well as to establish procedures for addressing violence or other behaviors or situations of concern should they occur. Training and timely information are available to the university community through UTP-H. The Community Outreach component of UTP-H is available to provide in-depth training to employees in high risk areas upon request. Additionally, UTP-H posts timely information regarding campus crime and crime-related issues on its website and distributes an annual crime awareness and campus security data brochure, which is available online and from UTP-H. The university has also implemented a text message emergency notification system to notify the university community in the event of an imminent threat, crisis or harm. 

Supervisors are encouraged to refer employees who exhibit behaviors that may lead to violence or threats (e.g., job stress, inappropriate anger), or who may have been the victim of an assault to the Office of Employee Assistance Programs.

Faculty are encouraged to refer students and residents who exhibit behaviors indicating unusual stress or anger, or who may have been the victim of an assault, to the appropriate Dean of Student Affairs, Office of Graduate Medical Education or Student Health and Counseling.

     E. Retaliation

The university encourages good faith disclosures related to reports of violence or other behaviors or situations of concern in the workplace and will not tolerate retaliation or threat of retaliation against those who make disclosures of actual or perceived violence or other behaviors or situations of concern or who cooperate in good faith with an investigation of such allegations. Refer to HOOP Policy 108 Protection from Retaliation and HOOP 59 Sexual Misconduct. "Good faith" denotes the person making the disclosure believes it to be true and a reasonable person could believe the disclosure to be true based on available factual information. Acts or threats of retaliation in response to such disclosures may subject the person retaliating to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or dismissal. Persons making disclosures with reckless disregard for the truth or in willful ignorance of the facts may be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or dismissal.

IV. CONTACTS

    • The University of Texas Police - Houston
    • 713-563-7794
    • https://www.utph.org/
    • Human Resources
    • 713-500-3130
    • https://www.uth.edu/hr/department/employee-relations/index.htm
    • Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
    • 713-500-3082
    • Office of Employee Assistance Programs
    • 713-500-3327
    • https://www.uth.edu/evpara/contact-us/leadership.htm
    • STOP Team
    • 713-792-7867 (713-792-STOP)
    • https://inside.uth.edu/ut-counseling/