History, Mission, and Structure

The Crisis Prevention Team (CPT) was formed in fall 2007 in response to the tragic incident at Virginia Tech. The CPT employs a proactive and collaborative approach in an effort to prevent, identify, assess, intervene and manage situations that may pose a threat to the safety and/or well-being of individual students and the campus community. The mission of the team is to promote campus safety.

The Crisis Prevention Team has evolved over time and now includes 15 members who represent management, faculty and staff. Team members are chosen by virtue of the roles they play at the college and include representatives from the following departments: Campus Police, Student Judicial Affairs, Psychological Services, Health Services Center, Ombuds Office, Counseling, Disabled Students Programs & Services, International Education Center, Academic Affairs, Human Resources and Legal Counsel. A Case Management Coordinator, who is a licensed clinical social worker, was recently added to the team. She works directly with students who have been referred to the team as well as with the faculty and/or staff who have made the referral. When meeting with students, her primary role is to assess their emotional well-being, offer support, and link them to resources both on and off campus.

The team meets for 2 – 3 hours twice a month. Emergency meetings are called when necessary. The team typically discusses between 25 - 35 students at each meeting. The team also conducts trainings and regularly makes presentations to SMC Departments and at Flex Days.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to refer worrisome students to the CPT when they:

  • receive inappropriate emails,

  • observe inappropriate behavior,

  • hear mention of thoughts or gestures of self- harm or harm to others,

  • suspect family or domestic problems,

  • suspect alcohol or drug abuse,

  • suspect the possession of weapons, or

  • wonder, “Should I?”

When one or more of these behaviors are observed, faculty are encouraged to fill out a referral form that is also used by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Title IX. The referral form can be accessed from the SMC website, and information is pulled from ISIS so that once a report is filed and a case is opened, team members can readily access student demographic information, SMC ID numbers, current course schedules, and more.

Crisis Prevention Team Protocol

Once the team receives a referral concerning a worrisome student, the team engages in the following steps with the goal of providing the SMC community with the best support possible.

  • Assesses the level of perceived or real threat

  • Completes a threat assessment (if there is a perceived threat) using one of the established CPT tools (the NaBITA threat assessment tool or SIVRA 35)

  • Determines the appropriate intervention based on level of threat

  • Discusses appropriate follow up with the reporting party

When assessing the threat level of a case, the team uses their collective wisdom and judgment, the NaBITA (National Behavioral Intervention Team Association) Threat Assessment Tool and, in more extreme cases, the SIVRA 35 (Structured Interview for Violence Risk Assessment). The team belongs to NaBITA, and has received training on each of these tools as well as on crisis prevention, in general. The NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool is depicted below.

Chart illustrating the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool 

Presentation of Data and Observed Trends:
January – December 2015 and January – April 2016

January 2015-December 2015
Criteria
Results
Total Number of Students Triaged/Discussed
111
Gender
66 M/ 45F
Average Age
29
Average Number of Semesters at SMC
8
Disclosed/Suspected Mental Health Condition
66
Perceived Threat of Violence
10
Presented Suicidal/Homicidal Ideation
16
Reported Previous Mental Health Hospitalization(s) (WIC 5150)
6
CPT Cases that Required SMC Campus Police Intervention
49
Shared CPT and SJA cases
45
Shared SJA Cases that Resulted in Suspension
13
Shared CPT and Title IX Cases
15
Reported Substance Abuse
10
Reported Homeless
7
January 2016-April 2016
Criteria
Results
Total Number of Students Triaged/Discussed
92
Gender
62 M/ 30F
Average Age
28
Average Number of Semesters at SMC
6
Disclosed/Suspected Mental Health Condition
57
Perceived Threat of Violence
9
Presented Suicidal/Homicidal Ideation
11
Reported Previous Mental Health Hospitalization(s) (WIC 5150)
4
CPT Cases that Required SMC Campus Police Intervention
24
Shared CPT and SJA cases
29
Shared SJA Cases that Resulted in Suspension
7
Shared CPT and Title IX Cases
25
Reported Substance Abuse
4
Reported Homeless
4

During the January 2015 – December 2015 calendar year, the Crisis Prevention Team triaged/discussed 111 student cases. These cases were reported primarily by faculty but also included referrals from classified staff, campus police and students. 66 of the cases reported were male and 45 female. The median age of the student of concern was 29 years of age but referrals ranged from 18-65 years of age. The average length of time of study at SMC was 8 semesters.

Reported/suspected mental health cases accounted for 66 of the 111 Crisis Prevention Team students. These students frequently displayed bizarre and concerning behaviors in various settings on campus. These impairments frequently resulted in the disruption of the learning environment for other students. 16 of the students with identified mental health conditions also reported suicidal or homicidal ideation. In cases where CPT suspected intent behind reported suicidal and homicidal ideation, additional support from on and off campus resources was used. Out of the 66 mental health cases, 3 students reported previous hospitalizations and 3 cases resulted in hospitalization by SMC campus police.

The Santa Monica College Police Department assisted with the intervention of 49 CPT cases. These interventions included classroom support, welfare checks, the filing of reports, background checks, assessments for danger to self/others (WIC 5150) and case consultation. 3 of the 49 cases resulted in the mental hospitalization of a SMC student under the Welfare Institution Code (WIC 5150). These students were identified as a danger to self and/or others.

Threats of violence were determined based on verbal statements, emails or actions taken by SMC and non SMC students. This included threats made against a specific individual and the larger SMC community. 10 cases met the criteria for threats of violence and required a NaBITA threat assessment. In these cases the CPT also consulted with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, School Threat Assessment Response Team (START).

CPT partnered with Student Judicial Affairs (SJA) for 45 of the CPT cases. These students required collaboration for various reasons including but not limited to continued disruptive behaviors, serious misconduct, assault, substance abuse and threats of violence. Suspension was recommended for 13 of the 45 cases. In all cases the students were in violation of the SMC Code of Conduct.

15 of the CPT cases were also affiliated with the Title IX office. These students frequently needed additional support on campus as a result of the sexual harassment and misconduct they endured. This population required comprehensive on-campus services involving multiple areas of support, such as police assistance, academic affairs involvement, referral for health services, student psychological services, and other offices on and off campus.

Out of the 111 triaged cases, 10 disclosed substance abuse issues and 7 reported homelessness. These students were frequently referred to community programs such as Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC).

During the first four months of the 2016 calendar year (January-April 2016) the Crisis Prevention Team has triaged/discussed 92 cases. In just four months the team has assisted almost as many students as it did for the entire 2015 calendar year. This increase in referrals can be partly attributed to the increased visibility of the CPT on campus, our new Case Management Coordinator, and increased collaboration with support programs on campus.

So far there has been a slight decrease in age and number of semesters at SMC when compared to the 2015 calendar year. The average age of referral for CPT cases for 2016 is 28 years of age, ranging from 17 to 73 years of age. We have also observed an increase in referrals for students in their first semester at SMC resulting in a reduction of the average number of semesters completed to 6.

The team continues to see a higher rate of referral for male students compared to female. The team has worked with 62 male students and 30 female students so far this calendar year. It is unclear why the CPT receives a higher rate of male referrals.

The number of students on campus who suffer from severe and persistent mental health conditions continues to rise. During the first four months of the 2016 calendar year the CPT has triaged/ discussed 57 cases that were impacted greatly by the student’s mental health impairments.

Students with mental health conditions continue to present the Crisis Prevention Team with some of its most challenging cases. There has been an increase in students with severe mental health symptoms. These students frequently present on campus with psychotic or mood disorders. When these students are open to treatment they are typically referred to the Case Management Coordinator and linked to the Department of Mental Health or Los Angeles County contracted clinics for intensive services. In cases where the student’s level of impairment has placed others in danger on campus or resulted in a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, students are required to go through the Student Judicial Affairs process.

Crisis Prevention Team Challenges

There are a number of challenges that the team faces when doing its work. First of all, when the team does its work well, very few people know. The nature of the work is “behind the scenes” and often times confidential in nature. Given this, the campus community at large doesn’t know the number of suspensions that the team has recommended or the volume of students that have been referred for support services.

Secondly, we find there can be resistance from some faculty – adjunct faculty in particular -- to report concerns to the team for fear it will negatively reflect on their preceived ability to manage classroom situations and/or address concerning student behavior. The team hopes to change this perception since many of the students that are referred have extremely complicated mental health conditions that require professional intervention.

Similarly, we are finding that many students who are referred to the team have diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health conditions but are unwilling to seek treatment and/or take prescribed medication. While these students don’t necessarly pose a threat, they can be very disruptive to the learning environment. Faculty often times want these students removed from their classroom immediately, but there are a series of steps that must be taken and/or thresholds that must be met in order to take this action. None of this diminishes the desire of the team to support SMC faculty, but the perception can be otherwise in extremely difficult and/or sensitive situations that involved mental health. The team hopes to continue its partnership with Psych Services to educate the campus community about mental illness and the rights of students with this condition.

And, finally, it’s important to note that human behavior is unpredictable. While the team does its best job trying to support faculty, linking referred students with resources, and keeping the campus safe, it’s not always possible to predict what a student may or may not do. For example, just because the Crisis Prevention Team takes action to suspend a student, this doesn’t prevent him/her from re-entering the campus and causing further disruption. While we get it right a large percentage of the time, the work we do is far from an exact science.

Goals for the Future/Looking Ahead

The Crisis Prevention Team recently updated and enhanced its website, designed a new logo, and looks forward to creating even greater awareness and understanding of its work within the SMC campus community. Similarly, the team hopes to further develop training opportunities to faculty and staff on crisis prevention, and aims to engage more SMC programs and departments in experiences that will allow better understanding of some of the difficult issues our students face and what to do when this manifests as concerning behavior. The team is also developing messaging to faculty that will include information about classroom removal and reporting concerns. And, finally, the team will continue its own professional development through participation in NABITA sponsored activities and courses.

​​