Volume of concerning behavior reports increases from last year

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A UT safety hotline in its third year provides faculty, staff and students with a confidential way to protect themselves and those around them from potentially violent or destructive individuals. Three faculty and staff associations worked to put on an event for the UT community Wednesday that highlighted the Behavior Concerns Advice Line. The line allows faculty, staff and students to report an individual’s troublesome behavior when police assistance may not be necessary, said Student Emergency Services coordinator Christa López. López said if a student notices concerning signs such as change in appearance, performance or social behavior, they should call the advice line, but if a student notices a “flashpoint” in which someone is in immediate danger, they should call the UT Police Department. “After receiving a lot of helpful information from [UTPD Chief Robert] Dahlstrom, we decided to try and get this information out to all,” said Latonya Robinson, the president of the Black Faculty and Staff Association. Campus safety is an issue all members of the University can help with, and UTPD cannot be the only eyes on the safety of the community, Dahlstrom said. “We are very proud of our police officers, but the Behavior Concerns Advice Line keeps our campus as safe, if not safer than the campus police department,” Dahlstrom said. During the presentation, Dahlstrom highlighted two successful calls to the line, one in which a student was reportedly carrying a pistol in his backpack and another in which a student was threatening to blow up people on the UT tower and was believed to be capable of doing so. UTPD apprehended both students before they committed any violent acts. Other times calls come in too late — a few weeks after those incidents, a call came in about a potential suicide, but the student took his own life before police could arrive on the scene. In the three years since Student Emergency Services created the call line, the volume of calls has steadily increased, López said. It received approximately 187 calls in the first two months of the fall 2010 semester, compared to 397 calls for the entire 2009-10 school year, López said. Both López and Dahlstrom said they hope this increase in calls continues as it allows for greater opportunities to solve issues before they become serious problems. Some people that express concerns just wanted to be heard, Lopez said. “We live in a society where people have issues,” Dahlstrom said. “The earlier you help people come to terms with these issues, the less intervention it takes.” The presentation taught the importance of being aware of your surroundings, said journalism and sociology junior Brittany Connors. “Thankfully I’ve never had a reason to make a call to the hotline, but after watching this presentation, I learned it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Connors said.