Threat Assessment

green street on campus

Threat Assessment


The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is committed to the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The Threat Assessment Team strives to prevent targeted violence by employing a proactive, evidence-based approach to the assessment and management of threats posed, or potentially posed, to or by members of the university community. The program seeks to identify and offer supportive resources for involved and impacted individuals.

The campus community is responsible for actively participating in the recognition of concerning and threatening behaviors, as outlined below, and for reporting such behaviors to the Threat Assessment Team. The following guidance may help you, a member of the campus community, to identify observable behaviors or circumstances that indicate someone needs assistance, is at risk of disrupting the educational environment of others or may pose a risk of violence.

Targeted violence is goal-directed behavior that most commonly results from the interaction of four factors: the person of concern, their potential target(s), the environment, and precipitating events. Additionally, targeted violence is rarely spontaneous; instead, it is usually preceded by a process of ideation, planning, and preparation. Thus, there are often observable behaviors or circumstances that indicate someone needs assistance and is at increasing risk for violence.

It is not always possible to know the significance of any single behavior taken out of context. The list below identifies risk factors that may indicate developing concerns. We ask that you report knowledge or observation of individuals exhibiting any of these factors/behaviors to the team so that we may assess the situation and provide what assistance and support may be needed.

What To Report

Behavioral Signs

Students cross the Bardeen Quad as the spring semester kicks off as students return to classes at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Students cross the Bardeen Quad as the spring semester kicks off as students return to classes at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Motives for Violence: Evidence of a felt motive to act violently as a legitimate means to address a grievance or achieve an objective, e.g., to seek revenge or justice, end pain, gain notoriety, or bring attention to or solve a problem.

Homicidal Ideas, Violent Fantasies or Preoccupation: Homicidal ideation or thoughts: preoccupation with violent themes, fantasies, weapons, or violent groups; approval of violence; identification with perpetrators of violence.

Violent Intentions and Expressed Threats: Any threats, specific plans, or expressed intentions to harm (e.g., spoken, written, electronic, symbolic).

Unauthorized Possession of Weapons: Evidence of bringing weapons to campus and/or to the workplace without proper authorization.

Pre-Attack Planning and Authorization: Any behavior that is part of the research, planning, preparation, or implementation of an attack, including increased weapons acquisition. Entitlement and Other Negative Traits: Strong sense of entitlement and self-centeredness; very defensive, blaming of others, intolerant; “black or white” thinking; preoccupation with felt insults; holds grudges; vindictive.

Lack of Conscience and Irresponsibility: Callous disregard for or exploitation of others; lack of remorse for wrongdoing; habitual lying; habitual pattern of violating policies or laws.

Paranoia and Other Psychotic Symptoms: Persecutory or delusional beliefs or hallucinations, especially if linked to an intention to attack perceived enemies; highly elevated, grandiose mood; impulsive behavior; agitation; anger or acts of violence associated with any of the above; noncompliance with mental health treatment for any of the above.

Desperation and Suicidality: Strong feelings of hopelessness or “nothing to lose”; suicidal ideas or actions, including history of attempts; anger associated with depressed mood or suicidal feelings; noncompliance with recommended mental health treatment.

Fixation: Any behavior that indicates an increasing pathological preoccupation with a person or a cause, measured by:

  • Increasing perseveration on the person or cause, e.g., bringing up the person/cause or continuing to discuss the person/cause when the topic is not socially relevant or appropriate.
  • Increasing negative characterization of the person or cause.
  • Increasingly strident opinion.
  • Impact on the family or associates of the person if they are aware.
  • Angry emotional undertone.

Please note that these examples are not all-inclusive, and this information is not intended to be used as a checklist. If you are concerned about an individual, even if you cannot identify specific risk factors, please contact the team.

Physical/Observable Signs

Substance Abuse: Alcohol abuse or dependence; drug abuse or dependence; anger expression and/or violence associated with alcohol or drug abuse or dependence; recent history of treatment noncompliance for drug or alcohol problems.

Loss, Personal Stressors, and Negative Coping: Observable stress, desperation, despair, or humiliation in reaction to significant loss, death, rejection, or setback (e.g., death of a family member; breakup of a marriage or relationship; loss of status, financial resources, property, or good health; failed civil actions); generally, very poor coping ability when stressed.

Menacing Behavior: pattern of fear-inducing harassment.

Anger Problems: Angry outbursts, “ready to explode” appearance; impulsive reactions to frustration; physical displays of anger (e.g., throwing objects, property destruction, vandalism; pattern of bullying, belligerence, intimidation; expression of anger leads to noteworthy fear in others; escalation in expressions of anger over days or weeks, or sudden absence of chronic anger).

Violence and Interpersonal Conflict: Violent behavior, especially recent, frequent, or severe; active protective orders and/or protective order violations; serial filing of often unfounded grievances.

Isolation: Active avoidance of social and intimate bonds; increasing preference for isolation.

Work/Academic Signs

Employee or Student Status-Related Problems: Recent or likely termination/suspension/dismissal; significant conduct, performance, employee and/or student status issues.

The Threat Assessment Team encourages employees to report information about individuals exhibiting any of the following behaviors:

  • Social or occupational deterioration, e.g., unexplained or unusual absences from work or school;
  • Extreme or sudden changes in behavior;
  • Resistance to change, feedback, or reasonable limits;
  • Overreaction to changes in policies or procedures;
  • Numerous conflicts with others;
  • Displays of paranoia or distrust; nonsensical or incoherent speech; or
  • Intimidating or aggressive behavior.

Sexual Misconduct/Stalking/Dating Violence

Stalking: Stalking behaviors; pattern of fear-inducing harassment.

Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence: History of, especially recent escalation of, partner assault, harassment, surveillance, or stalking; history of assaulting previous partners; threatening contacts with partner on campus or in the workplace.

If your report includes sexual misconduct, such as stalking, intimate partner violence, or sexual assault, you may also submit a report to the Title IX Office. You may visit FAQs about Employee Reporting Obligations to learn if you are required to report to the Title IX Coordinator.

How To Submit A Report

There are three primary ways to report concerns:

  1. File a report online through our Online Reporting Form
  2. Contact the Threat Assessment Program at 217-244-2850
  3. Imminent threats and emergencies, contact University of Illinois Police by dialing 911.

Your report will be reviewed by the Threat Assessment Team. When filing a report, include all relevant information pertaining to the individual’s concerning behavior, while refraining from diagnosing or speculating about a mental health issue. Provide a detailed description of the incident or concerning behavior, using language that is specific, concise, and objective. If there are relevant documents to include, submit them with the report.

For more information on what to report visit our Campus Administrative Manual – Campus Threat Assessment FO-19.

Please Note: Any information submitted in a TAT referral about a student, whether in-person, over the phone, via email, or through the online referral form, becomes part of the student’s educational record, subject to FERPA, and may be disclosed to the student upon the student’s request.

Threat Assessment Team Membership:

  • Faculty/Staff Assistance and Well-Being Services
  • Graduate College
  • Illinois Human Resources
  • Office of General Counsel (Advisory Capacity)
  • Office of the Dean of Students
  • Threat Assessment Program
  • University Housing
  • University of Illinois Police Department

Other professionals are asked to join the group on an as needed basis.

1 Warning behaviors adapted from:

  • White, S. G., & Meloy, J. R. (2010). The WAVR-21: A structured professional guide for the workplace assessment of violence risk, Second edition. San Diego, CA: Specialized Training Services.
  • Meloy, J. R., Hoffman, J., Guldimann, A., & James, D. (2012). The role of warning behaviors in threat assessment: An exploration and suggested typology. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 30, 256-279.
  • Meloy, J. R., Hoffman, J., Roshdi, K., Glaz-Ocik, J., & Guldimann, A. (2014). Warning behaviors and their configurations across various domains of targeted violence. In J. R. Meloy & J. Hoffman (Eds.), International handbook of threat assessment (pp. 39-53). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

2 Virginia Tech Threat Assessment (, and Illinois Community of Care (