The Responsibilities of the University and Threat Assessment

Discussion in 'Movie Theater Massacre in Colorado' started by JBean, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. JBean

    JBean Retired WS Administrator

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    What did or didn't the University and the Threat Assessment Team do or not do? This seems to be an important issue. Please discuss here.
     
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  3. shadowraiths

    shadowraiths LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Special Moderator

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    Will U of Colorado Face Duty-to-Warn Suits re Off-Campus Movie Theater Shooting Spree? ( link )
    By Martha Neil, ABAJournal, TORT LAW
    1 hour, 5 minutes ago

    It isn't clear what was said, or what sparked Fenton's apparent concern. However, sources said the BETA team did not pursue the issue further after Holmes withdrew from his neuroscience graduate program around June 12, because the university no longer had any control over him, the station reports.

    [...]

    Like Spodak, an expert interviewed by CNN said a student's decision to drop out shouldn't automatically conclude the school's response to a psychiatrist's warning, although he pointed out that the facts of the Colorado situation aren't known.

    "The decision to close a case is made based on assessment that the person no longer poses a threat of violence or significant disruption to the campus or to any other identifiable target," said Gene Deisinger. A former clinical psychologist, he is currently Virginia Tech's deputy chief of police, as well as in charge of the school's threat assessment team.

    [...]

    While winning may be an uphill legal battle, the plaintiffs and slain victims will likely be very sympathetic to jurors.

    Virginia Tech, when faced with a similar situation, albeit on campus, where its duty to students was more clearcut, opted to settle quickly rather than defend such litigation, and the University of Colorado may do so, too, predicts partner Barry Pollack of Miller & Chevalier.
     
  4. waitin'4thewrld2chg

    waitin'4thewrld2chg New Member

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    I posted this yesterday in the Dr. Fenton thread but I think this is the spot where it really should have gone.

    I would be interested in knowing more about the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment team (BETA), though that information might not be available at this time. I am curious about the mission of the team and its stated guidelines.

    I imagine that "threat" in the team name refers certainly to written or stated threats that cause concern but are not of the level that would obligate one to report the threats to LE. However, since the team name includes"behavioral evaluation", I wonder if the focus of the team also extends to include the posing of a threat, in the more generalized sense, to self, others, and/or the educational process.

    Dr. Fenton made separate calls to speak about JH with several members of the BETA team during the first ten days of June.

    http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/nationa...urora-shooting

    To me, the dates of these calls would be key, given that JH dropped out of his program of studies on June 10. If Dr. Fenton made the calls during the first few days of the month of June, for example, why did the team not just go ahead and meet? The mere fact that Dr. Fenton, with all of her professional background and credentials, was calling this student to the attention of others on the team, if even informally by phone, might suggest that it would have behooved the group to convene.

    Seems to me a smooth-functioning team of this nature would have a guideline in place specifying that it get together within a set period of time (2-3 days from the date of expression of concern, for example) to discuss the issues at hand. True, these professionals are busy people, but evaluation of a threat, in whatever sense of the word, could be prioritized imo.

    I think it would "look better" now (hindsight being 20/20) had the team met---IF there was time for it to have done so before JH withdrew from the school. It might not have changed a thing, but at least the team that Dr. Fenton helped to establish in 2010 for the purpose of intervention would have been on record as having mobilized.
     
  5. February

    February New Member

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    SHIRLEY WYGAL, MOTHER OF VICTIM (via phone): Well, it certainly changed the way I feel. I don`t feel the same today that I did yesterday. And because I can -- I can deal with a random act of violence, but not with a preventable loss of my daughter. And I really think the university dropped the ball. That`s just my personal opinion.

    And I think that I`d like to see the psychiatrist investigated thoroughly. And I`m sure she will be. And I`d like to see the university`s responsibility investigated thoroughly. And I`m sure it will be. But a preventable massacre is pretty much unforgivable.

    But I want to go to Shirley Wygal, the mother of one of the beautiful young women who died, Rebecca Wingo. Your thoughts about this. I know you want to weigh in.

    WYGAL: I do. The caller asks why the universities don`t stop these things. And I just spent eight years in a university myself. And the answer is cronyism. They`re a very tight-knit group.

    And I went in and looked at the ethical principles of the American Psychiatric Association. And just so you know what their ethical code requires, she -- she did not have to report anything. Unless he came out and said, "I am going to kill someone," she didn`t have to report anything.

    Apparently, she saw red flags. She saw someone changing. Someone who is obviously disturbed and making big changes. You don`t drop out of school at the level he was at. That just doesn`t happen. So red flags, she saw them. She said something to her colleagues. They didn`t do anything about it. But even in the code of ethics it says that she can -- she can ethically hold the right to dissent within the framework of the law from giving them anything.

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1208/02/ijvm.01.html


    I am very impressed with her thinking and comments.
     
  6. February

    February New Member

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    At this point, we dont know up to what extent she did try her best to get help for JH upon "feeling" that he could be a danger to others but with things coming out, her best choice is to get her own representation outside the school IMO.
     
  7. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Yep. She needs the best attorney in town, even if she did everything right.

    I tell everyone, get a lawyer asap, be it criminal, civil, or family law, always get a lawyer. Some how, some way, you can get one, even if you can't afford one, you can get one. (Although I think she can afford one.)
     
  8. Curious Me

    Curious Me Registered User of Space and Time

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    Asking myself why all eyes are on DrF now. I've heard how slow it is to navigate through a school's procedures in a situation like this.

    Surprises me if there's no procedures in place that support the idea of "accountability" of the person reporting a concern to the BETA team and who they should report it to in written form.

    What I'm trying to say is DrF put the team together, she's the doctor who has concerns, and yet she doesn't have another person to take over from there. She's making phone calls to get this team together to do something and it seems to go no where. It's all up to her. (She only sees patients on Wednesdays? How much is on her plate?) It sounds so loose in procedure for emergency situations. Was everything communicated via phone calls?
     
  9. February

    February New Member

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    ITA.
    it's gonna be a High Profile case so high profile lawyers will be lining up to represent her just to join the show.... ..Free Advertising :)

    perhaps she needs to dial Gloria Allred's number now? :)
     
  10. February

    February New Member

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    IMO, they may have internal guidelines but they possibly dont want to release it because of the Privacy Issues ( FERPA AND HIPAA ) . If Fenton is treating JH, up to what extent BETA can help without looking at the medical records of JH and then we go back also to, are they even allowed to see his medical records? Did the students sign a release that they are allowing BETA Team to look at their personal Medical Records with their own Psychiatrist at the University sharing it to them?
     
  11. February

    February New Member

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    The Team consists of representatives from the Counseling Center, Faculty Development Center, Office of Student Life, Legal Counsel, Human Resources, Student Conduct Office, Risk Management, Student Life, Student Services, Ombuds, Disability Services, Campus Police and Student Housing.

    http://www.ucdenver.edu/life/services/BETA/Pages/default.aspx


    are these people even allowed to see or hear JH's Medical/Patient Records of Fenton?

    edited to add : i think but i am not sure that the BETA Team site got edited :(
     
  12. Curious Me

    Curious Me Registered User of Space and Time

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    Procedures that have accountability to protect from cronyism is maybe what I'm trying to say.
     
  13. February

    February New Member

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    I doubt the school will even provide that ..IMO
     
  14. orora

    orora New Member

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    Huge issues involved here that go beyond what what anyone would expect a university to be doing. In the Penn State example, who would expect a university to cover up chidren being raped? Who would expect a university to cover up their degree of involvement with a student who goes on to be a mass murderer? We would expect that the damage was sufficvient that whatever happened originally, would be fully disclosed to establish rules and procedures to prevent it from happening again. That was discussed and should have been the result of Columbine. ( a few miles up the road)

    Instead what was learned? How to divert the potential danger to react elsewhere besides the school and that is the end of things? Report him to Police will cause the opposite? Silence is best?

    When Fenton contacted several team members, the danger was already deemed significant imo.

    The internal procedure leading to dropping out, evidence of employing an alternate process to minimize risk to school.

    The university should bite the bullet now and drop damage control. Penn State got what it deserved more for the coverup than the initial crimes. The end results here if this process of protecting those involved continues and is eventually proven could be/should be far greater than Penn. Risk criminal charges.. for a few isolated individuals now, or a complete shut down of the University if forced to disclose and uncovered later.
     
  15. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    I think you are right on page scrubbing. Just google: uc denver beta team, you'll see some things.

    Then look at what was published two days ago:

    http://www.ucdenver.edu/about/newsroom/newsreleases/Pages/BETA-team-response.aspx
     
  16. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Much as I am hoping the school has nothing to hide, I have to admit is is not looking good. I'll keep some hope until we find out more.
     
  17. February

    February New Member

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    Ty!
    might as well copy and paste it here now before it vanish/change..

    UNIVERSITY EXPLAINS HOW BETA TEAM OPERATES
    Specific information about how BETA teams have acted in cases can't, by law, be discussed

    8/1/2012
    DENVER (Aug. 1, 2012) -- We are unable to respond to specific inquiries about James Holmes due to court orders and other laws that protect the confidentiality of student information. Nor can we discuss how BETA teams have acted in other cases involving our students, faculty and employees. At the same time, we wish to help you understand how the University’s BETA team operates.

    A BETA Team stands for a Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment Team. It is a resource consisting of representatives from various offices within the University of Colorado that exists to provide information to faculty, staff, or students who are concerned about a member of the campus community.

    Any person in the University community has the ability to contact the Chair of the BETA Team, or other member, to report a concern.

    The BETA Team is not a law enforcement mechanism, but instead allows members of the university community to confer and collaborate about how to provide support and resources to those involved.

    Who will participate and what the BETA team might do in a particular case would vary depending upon the issue brought to a member’s attention. For example, if a student is concerned about her roommate and stress that she is experiencing around the time of finals, members of the BETA team might confer with officials in student housing or the student’s department.

    The BETA team is not an administrative, treatment, or disciplinary body, and its purpose is to provide support, information, and referrals to those dealing with difficult situations.
     
  18. jjenny

    jjenny Active Member

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    Once he dropped out of school, this BETA team had no control over him. So I am still waiting for answers as to what they could have possibly done.
    Considering that once he dropped out, he is no longer a student.
     
  19. orora

    orora New Member

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    Holmes was reported and deemed a danger while still a student. Dropping out made him no less a danger. The rest is legalistic bs coverup and damage control. Too late to even offer that up as an excuse imo..

    (the road to Penn State)
     
  20. waitin'4thewrld2chg

    waitin'4thewrld2chg New Member

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    The question you raise is one I have, also.

    I am wondering about the general relationship between doctor/patient confidentiality and the functioning of a university team that assembles to evaluate threats and assess behavior.

    Is this a sticky area that could potentially cause a group to think twice before convening, since some concerns may be more clear-cut and some more questionable?
     
  21. shadowraiths

    shadowraiths LISK Liaison, Verified Forensic Psychology Special Moderator

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    I highly doubt this is the case. Wednesdays are her office hours. What that means is, outside of classes and her patients, Wednesday office hours are available for students to make appointments regarding a myriad of things, to include course work questions, and even talking with her to see about getting therapy.

    Btw, and aside, her school bio is back up ( link )
     

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