Why does UVA have a Violence Prevention Committee (VPC) and Threat Assessment Team (TAT)?

Virginia law §23.1-805 requires UVA and all public institutions of higher education to have a Violence Prevention Committee and Threat Assessment Team. Multi-disciplinary threat assessment and management teams are considered best practice by the FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security and others as a strategy to prevent targeted violence. 

What’s the difference between the VPC and the TAT?

The VPC develops policies and procedures for the prevention of violence on Grounds, including assessment of and intervention of individuals whose behavior poses a threat to the safety toward the University community. The TAT is the body responsible for executing those policies and procedures. 

What is the Office of Threat Assessment (OTA)?

The OTA provides subject matter expertise to Violence Prevention Committee and Threat Assessment Team. OTA coordinates all aspects of these processes.

What are the qualifications of the Office of Threat Assessment (OTA) staff?

OTA staff are seasoned mental health and law enforcement professionals with specialized training, experience, and certifications in threat assessment and management.

What is targeted violence?

Targeted violence happens when an individual engages in research, planning, and preparation for an attack due to an unresolved personal or societal grievance. A grievance is sustained over time and often leads to feelings of humiliation, anger, and desires for revenge. Grievances typically derive from the setting in which they occur, such as a workplace, school, healthcare setting, or personal relationship.

What is Threat Assessment and Management?

Threat Assessment and Management is an evidence-based, violence prevention strategy to 1) identify and assess whether an individual poses a risk of targeted violence and 2) to respond with appropriate prevention steps to reduce the risk. At UVA, threat assessment and management is a dynamic, multidisciplinary process. The Threat Assessment Team (TAT) attempts to understand a person’s motivation and capability of violence; enhance protective factors; anticipate and minimize triggering events; and protect and support potential targets. TAT, therefore, guides the allocation of University, Medical Center, and community resources in effort to mitigate violence risk. Threat management may occur in parallel with additional outreach or investigation by Threat Assessment Team members.

Why should I report a concerning behavior to the Threat Assessment Team?

In the aftermath of attacks, it often becomes clear that an individual displayed multiple warning behaviors. These warning behaviors are often observed but not always shared with individuals who might be able to intervene to deescalate risk, such as the Threat Assessment Team.

How do I report a concern?

There are multiple ways to report a concern. If there is an immediate safety concern, you should contact the University Police by calling 911. In non-emergent situations, concerns of threatening behavior or future violence should be reported to the Office of Threat Assessment by emailing

What happens when a concern is shared?

The Office of Threat Assessment will review the reported information and follow up with the reporter by phone or email. Staff may ask additional questions to inform the assessment and management process, as well as guide the reporting party on how to proceed.

Does a referral to the Threat Assessment Team mean there is an active threat?

No. Many people and situations are referred to the Threat Assessment Team and through the assessment process, it is determined no threat exists or the risk of violence is low.

What is UVA’s Threat Assessment Team’s process?

All initial reports are reviewed to determine whether an imminent or serious violence risk is present. If present, University Police immediately take action to assess and mitigate the risk. In all cases, the Threat Assessment Team gathers information that informs an initial assessment. Per Virginia Code §23.1-805, all articulable and significant threats are reported to the appropriate Commonwealth’s Attorney and Law Enforcement agencies within 24 hours of making this preliminary determination. Management strategies are proportional to the level of risk and may include de-escalation, containment, and/or support of the subject; decreasing vulnerabilities of potential targets; enhancing security measures; and preparing for events that might increase violence risk.  

Am I in trouble if I am referred to the Office of Threat Assessment (OTA)?

OTA does not presume that people referred to its process will act violently. OTA recognizes certain situations cause people to become angry, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and display other behaviors inconsistent with community expectations and standards. It may be helpful for OTA to speak with you to understand your perspective on the situation. OTA’s goal is to understand, assist, and support you to mitigate or mediate the situation. OTA encourages you to be open, honest, and cooperative with the threat assessment process.
Behaviors reported to OTA may or may not be subject to disciplinary action. OTA has no disciplinary authority, unlike some members of the Threat Assessment Team. For example, University Police may open a criminal investigation, Employee Relations may review workplace conduct, Student Affairs may consider whether standards of conduct have been violated, and Title IX may review reports of sexual and gender-based harassment and other forms of interpersonal violence. These processes can occur parallel to inquiries made by OTA.

Is the information I discuss with the Office of Threat Assessment (OTA) confidential?

No. The information you share with OTA will be available to members of the Threat Assessment Team. OTA uses discretion when redisclosing information, rediscloses only for the purposes of assessment, executing case management strategies, mitigating violence risk, or to comply Virginia Code §23.1-805.

Why can’t the Threat Assessment Team predict violent behavior?

There is no profile. People of all ages, genders, and races engage in violence. No behavior is a definitive indicator of violence. Rather, concerning behaviors must be examined in context of the individual’s personal history, current circumstances, and other factors that might increase or reduce risk of violence. As such, there is no reliable and accurate prospective profile of someone who will commit a violent act.

How do threat assessment professionals assess firearms as a risk factor?

Most people are safe and responsible gun owners. However, if possession, purchase, or training with firearms occurs in conjunction with a personal grievance, threatening behaviors, substance abuse, a history of criminal behavior, domestic violence, paranoia, or mental health issues, then the risk of violence increases.

How do threat assessment professionals assess mental health issues as a risk factor?

About 1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue during their lifetime. Therefore, the presence of a mental health issue is a weak predictor of violence. However, if an acute psychiatric issue is occurring in conjunction with a personal grievance, a significant loss, substance abuse, criminal history, domestic violence, and/or access or effort to purchase a firearm, then the risk of violence increases.