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Op-ed: What you need to know about TTAM

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 02:10

President Monaco issued an anti-violence policy statement two days ago and introduced the Tufts Threat Assessment and Management program (also known as TTAM, pronounced “Tee Tam”). The announcement may cause some confusion around campus. 

After speaking with Kevin Maguire, director of Public and Environmental Safety, recently about improvements coming to Tufts, the biggest item on the agenda was TTAM. TTAM is a program created in support of the President’s policy statement and is managed and staffed by Tufts personnel trained in threat assessment and management. TTAM members are charged with carrying out “threat assessment and management activities on behalf of the university.” In other words, TTAM is a program through which “students, faculty, staff, alumni or parents can safely and confidentially (if one so chooses) report concerns of threatening or violent behavior by another community member or by a university vendor or contractor.”  College and university campuses, as well as other educational institutions, have experienced targeted violent behavior in the recent past. Columbine and Virginia Tech come to mind as just a few examples. TTAM is designed as a preventive program, identifying community members in need of services and intervening before violent behavior takes place. TTAM is one more program in a host of programs at Tufts designed to prevent incidents and maintain a safe environment. 

The model of threat assessment and management that TTAM uses was developed by the U.S. Secret Service to assess and manage threats made to the President. In the 1980s there were a series of shooting incidents within the United States Postal Service. At that time, the existing model of threat assessment and management was redeveloped to meet the needs of the USPS. Shortly thereafter, the model was again redeveloped to meet the needs of the educational community, from kindergarten through higher education. Tufts worked with an international expert in threat assessment, targeted violence and violence prevention who has many years of experience studying targeted violence and conducting research on school shootings, insider threats, stalking and other types of targeted violence.  Our outside expert served Tufts well, assisting in the design and implementation of TTAM.

TTAM members are trained in assessing and taking action regarding threatening behavior or direct threats. TTAM team members will “evaluate the information that members of the university community provide after a reported concern and decide whether to further assess the community member or if other action is necessary.” TTAM teams are trained to take appropriate action, and central to that action is providing assistance to those community members identified as in need of services. 

Threat assessment and management is a preventive initiative that shifts resources from reaction — responding after violence has taken place — to prevention, using threat assessment and management to identify individuals who may be on a pathway to violence, interrupting that pathway, and getting assistance for the individual of concern. 

Some colleges and universities already have threat assessment and management teams in place: Stanford University and Cornell are just two examples. All colleges and universities in Virginia, Illinois and Alabama are required by law to have them. 

Preventing targeted violence is possible when students, faculty and staff take action to ensure the community’s safety by proactively communicating threats of violence or concerning behavior of a violent nature. The TTAM website has information regarding how to recognize threats. More information is available on Tufts’ TTAM website.

TTAM teams are in place on all Tufts campuses. 

The purpose of TTAM is to ensure safety through prevention on all three Tufts Campuses.

Persons who make threats or exhibit threatening behavior need to be reported and the threats or behavior need to be taken seriously. It is up to members of the community, working in partnership with TTAM, to identify and report behaviors that may indicate an increasing risk for violence.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents can safely and confidentially report concerns of threatening or violent behavior exhibited by another Tufts community member or by a university vendor or contractor.

Reports can be made through the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD); by using the TTAM group email address; by using EthicsPoint for anonymous reporting or by contacting an individual TTAM member. 

Even if you are unsure, it’s always best to talk with someone who has been trained to assess and take action regarding potential violence. After your report, TTAM will determine whether the person or situation of concern poses a threat of violence and take the appropriate action.

Working together, we can all contribute to a safer community by taking action to report incidents of violence or threats of violence. 

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