Off-the-field Safety: Mario Scalora and Nebraska’s Threat Assessment Team
On Saturday in Lincoln, Husker fans cheer on the home team. But behind the scenes, another team is working to make sure the only conflict is on the field. In this episode of Faculty 101, we go behind-the-scenes at Memorial Stadium for a look at how the security team keeps fans safe. And we meet Mario Scalora, psychology professor and national threat assessment expert. | Show Notes: Learn more about the Public Policy Center ›› ppc.unl.edu; Learn more about the Targeted Violence Research Team ›› http://ow.ly/fzTx50wYOTN
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[00:00:00.580]So, welcome to the Northwestern game.
[00:00:03.310]We are here to create the safest atmosphere possible
[00:00:06.564]It's hours before kick off
[00:00:08.190]of the Husker Northwestern game.
[00:00:10.340]In a building near Memorial Stadium,
[00:00:12.600]a classroom is filled with men and women in uniform.
[00:00:16.460]Local and campus police, event security staff
[00:00:19.940]in bright orange pullovers
[00:00:22.320]and a sprinkling of undercover officers
[00:00:25.090]dressed in Husker Gear.
[00:00:26.670]Make sure you see something say something
[00:00:29.430]At the front of the room authorities
[00:00:31.150]run through a PowerPoint on a large screen
[00:00:33.920]reminding everyone of today's goal.
[00:00:36.791]This is the time that
[00:00:38.276]we make sure that we are stepping up our game
[00:00:40.010]and we are staying on pace
[00:00:41.310]and we're staying with what we want to do
[00:00:43.137]and our mission of making this a very safe place.
[00:00:46.660]In the crowd is Mario Scalora,
[00:00:48.930]University of Nebraska-Lincoln Psychology Professor
[00:00:51.671]and Threat Assessment Expert.
[00:00:54.200]Doctor Scalora wants to make it clear
[00:00:56.370]he's just one member of a very large team.
[00:00:59.710]There are people
[00:01:01.177]who work extremely hard year around
[00:01:03.331]to make sure that when we have
[00:01:05.140]90,000 of our fellow Nebraskans
[00:01:07.457]and friends here at the stadium that they're safe
[00:01:11.950]and not just for football, but for other events.
[00:01:14.279]What goes on off the field to ensure safety?
[00:01:17.547]And what advice does Mario Scalora follow
[00:01:20.495]when he's on the road?
[00:01:22.678]That's this edition oF Faculty 101.
[00:01:25.848]Hey, you should switch partners now.
[00:01:28.120]To be able to inspire young people
[00:01:31.080]Ace your finals
[00:01:32.160]It's really rewarding
[00:01:33.200]I love the students
[00:01:34.578]Welcome to Faculty 101,
[00:01:37.430]life hacks and success stories from Nebraska Faculty.
[00:01:40.708](upbeat guitar music)
[00:01:43.650]First step, orientation.
[00:01:45.550]Who is Mario Scalora?
[00:01:52.580]It's game day in Lincoln, Nebraska.
[00:01:54.750]Throngs of excited Husker fans head for the stadium.
[00:01:57.706]Security personnel direct fans to the correct gates,
[00:02:03.620]check those clear bags,
[00:02:05.740]and make sure everyone is following procedure.
[00:02:09.980]Mario Scalora hits the pavement
[00:02:12.360]making several laps of the stadium.
[00:02:14.850]Last week of the Ohio State game I did 38,000 steps.
[00:02:19.132]In his red jacket and Husker cap,
[00:02:21.500]Dr. Scalora looks like any other fan,
[00:02:24.660]but he carries a two-way radio under his jacket
[00:02:27.530]and his eyes are wide open.
[00:02:29.565]We're looking at how our security screenings are happening
[00:02:33.450]and whether things are getting screened.
[00:02:35.527]We're checking windows of nearby buildings
[00:02:38.052]to make sure that those are all sealed off.
[00:02:41.060]You see anything on (mumbles)
[00:02:45.060]We're also just checking for people who don't look like
[00:02:47.761]they're here to attend a game.
[00:02:56.010]He also spends time on the sidelines
[00:02:58.520]making sure overzealous
[00:03:00.140]or angry fans don't take it out on the Huskers
[00:03:02.799]or the visiting team.
[00:03:05.190]The only hassle they should have is between those lines.
[00:03:09.060]We rarely ever have issues,
[00:03:11.400]but part of it is just eyeballing to see what's going on.
[00:03:15.640]And our people are all around doing their thing.
[00:03:18.792]Today, Postdoctoral Researcher Rosa Venas
[00:03:22.200]and Psychology graduate student
[00:03:24.090]Maddy Eyer join the security team.
[00:03:26.700]Yeah, so we're both in a targeted violence research lab,
[00:03:30.901]They value the chance to work and study with Dr. Scalora.
[00:03:34.784]He offers very valuable experiences and awesome wisdom.
[00:03:38.286]He has all this applied knowledge,
[00:03:40.610]so he gets to see with his own eyes in events
[00:03:43.614]and activities such as like this
[00:03:46.860]management interventions are working the way
[00:03:49.040]they're supposed to and how we can be better
[00:03:51.330]at keeping people safe everyday.
[00:03:54.050]Dr. Scalora says that he appreciates
[00:03:56.010]the chance to learn from his students.
[00:03:59.060]Well, part of it is good for me because
[00:04:01.070]they are fresh eyes
[00:04:01.917]and they have great questions and they have insights.
[00:04:05.549]The other piece is they're learning.
[00:04:08.368]This is applied work and
[00:04:11.900]this is behavioral assessment at it's most straight-forward
[00:04:16.260]And they also get to meet with really great people
[00:04:20.000]in Public Safety and Law enforcement
[00:04:22.050]and the Event Management staff were really great to them
[00:04:25.064]and are fun people to learn from
[00:04:28.670]and very generous in their support.
[00:04:31.840]Time for office hours.
[00:04:33.240]Who is Mario Scalora?
[00:04:41.130]He's the son of Italian immigrants
[00:04:43.820]and one of the first in his family
[00:04:45.540]to graduate from high school and go on to college.
[00:04:48.253]Dr. Scalora's early work was with children,
[00:04:50.944]including victims of abuse.
[00:04:53.640]And I found myself getting very frustrated
[00:04:57.040]dealing with victims of violence
[00:04:59.230]and wanting to do more to try
[00:05:00.620]to address the things that were traumatizing
[00:05:03.117]these children, these young people.
[00:05:06.594]And so I decided to work more with perpetrators.
[00:05:10.060]He came to UNL to study Forensic Psychology
[00:05:12.908]and then joined the faculty.
[00:05:14.867]One day a colleague came to him for advice.
[00:05:19.157]A colleague of mine said,
[00:05:20.637]"Hey, you know we're dealing with these people
[00:05:24.220]who are seriously mentally ill
[00:05:25.484]who are hassling public officials
[00:05:27.770]and we're trying to figure out what to do with them
[00:05:30.264]and we are not sure that just arresting them
[00:05:33.230]makes a lot of sense, can you help us out?"
[00:05:36.060]And at that point,
[00:05:36.960]threat assessment was just a starting phenomenon
[00:05:40.100]and learned a little about that
[00:05:42.200]and I realized, figured out that this may be
[00:05:44.410]an opportunity to learn
[00:05:45.750]as a researcher and also as a clinician
[00:05:49.180]and thought, "What the heck?"
[00:05:51.630]And you know it's something that
[00:05:52.790]I wouldn't have planned for,
[00:05:55.040]but I think proof that you
[00:05:58.260]you constantly listen to the door when opportunity knocks
[00:06:02.660]and think about what if it's something
[00:06:04.830]that you may want to at least entertain for a while.
[00:06:09.400]And it ended up turning into
[00:06:11.240]a pretty vigorous research agenda
[00:06:13.755]for me for at least 20 years.
[00:06:18.010]Next up, lab work.
[00:06:19.600]A deep dive into research and creative activity.
[00:06:33.075]More and more acts of targeted violence seem
[00:06:36.170]to be a part of daily life,
[00:06:38.270]but Mario Scalora says,
[00:06:39.627]"Our understanding of violence has evolved over decades."
[00:06:44.380]You know, early on we
[00:06:48.690]thought that much much violence was impulsive
[00:06:50.370]not very emotion based
[00:06:53.100]not necessarily planned out or thought out.
[00:06:57.250]But then there was a lot of work done twenty-five,
[00:06:59.500]thirty years ago that highlighted
[00:07:02.060]more of the instrumental nature of violence how it was very
[00:07:04.447]how it could very targeted
[00:07:05.851]how it could very be focused
[00:07:08.470]how there could be a significant amount
[00:07:10.521]of planning related to it.
[00:07:13.500]Acts of, for example: stalking, terrorism,
[00:07:18.550]violence toward public officials,
[00:07:21.140]certain types of domestic violence
[00:07:23.110]are very targeted and very focused.
[00:07:26.430]By changing the way we think about violence,
[00:07:28.586]researches like Dr. Scalora are able to study
[00:07:31.571]how to avoid it.
[00:07:33.840]On the positive side, that meant that we can look at
[00:07:36.530]precursor to violence much more.
[00:07:38.803]We could see their warning signs and steps
[00:07:42.350]or things that may happen in advance
[00:07:45.210]that may give us signs or indications
[00:07:48.900]that perhaps we need to intervene
[00:07:51.180]to minimize that risk and mitigate that risk.
[00:07:54.470]It also tells us that violence is preventable
[00:07:59.210]which is actually a very hopeful piece of this
[00:08:01.995]and that we know that many people
[00:08:04.210]who engage in these types of acts of violence
[00:08:08.070]may do pretty challenging or despicable things,
[00:08:11.410]but they may also have problems in their own right
[00:08:13.740]and if we intervene at that level we're doing a lot
[00:08:17.210]not only to improve the lives of different individuals,
[00:08:20.520]but potentially to mitigate a public health problem,
[00:08:28.200]That's why on Football Saturdays, Nebraska's security team
[00:08:31.780]emphasizes: respect, kindness, and compassion.
[00:08:35.035]Go ahead you guys go ahead, you're working
[00:08:39.088]Here you go
[00:08:40.910]Safety doesn't have to be ominous
[00:08:43.000]it doesn't have to be in people's face.
[00:08:45.610]We want people to come forward to us
[00:08:47.680]when they see something suspicious
[00:08:49.922]and if we want to encourage that,
[00:08:51.790]we need to behave in a pretty friendly manner and
[00:08:58.470]people if they know that people will be treated respectfully
[00:09:02.330]are more likely to report something, one.
[00:09:05.010]Two is frankly the way to treat people.
[00:09:07.299]If you treat people with respect,
[00:09:09.000]you're less likely to have any drama later
[00:09:12.480]and if there is a misunderstanding,
[00:09:13.648]generally the drama goes away.
[00:09:23.500]Dr. Scalora lends his expertise to the US Capitol police.
[00:09:27.280]And helps monitor suspicious behavior
[00:09:29.580]at presidential enaugurations.
[00:09:31.880]In Nebraska, he regularly consults
[00:09:34.230]with schools on violence prevention
[00:09:35.999]and works with the State Patrol
[00:09:37.864]on issues of state-wide criminal activity.
[00:09:41.660]On the UNL campus, Dr. Scalora collaborates
[00:09:44.246]with university police.
[00:09:46.830]When people think about violence in education
[00:09:50.080]we're often thinking about students who are troubled
[00:09:53.450]and that may be an issue and certainly there are things
[00:09:56.870]we need to do to help people who are troubled,
[00:10:00.030]but you know, roughly 40 percent
[00:10:01.900]of our situations are outsiders who impact the university
[00:10:06.860]and we were probably one of the first universities
[00:10:10.510]not the only, but among the first
[00:10:13.110]to take a very active threat assessment
[00:10:15.320]and strong targeted violence prevention approach
[00:10:18.918]to look at the array of things that impact campuses
[00:10:22.596]so that when some of these trends are hitting campuses
[00:10:25.910]such as outside groups escalating their attention
[00:10:32.190]issues around stalking
[00:10:34.020]for example, we were able to continue to work aggressively
[00:10:39.619]to mitigate these things.
[00:10:42.350]As director of the University of Nebraska
[00:10:44.350]Public Policy Center,
[00:10:45.454]Dr. Scalora brings university expertise
[00:10:48.502]to everyday challenges.
[00:10:51.000]We're here to look at improved public safety,
[00:10:53.510]look at quality of life, improved public engagement
[00:10:57.890]helping improve educational processes there
[00:11:00.611]are excellent educational centers that work here on campus.
[00:11:04.658]We're leveraging scientific resources
[00:11:08.970]and putting it out in an applied manner
[00:11:11.580]for the better men of the state and region.
[00:11:16.576]Now, it's time for a pop quiz, random questions,
[00:11:20.180]life hacks, and wisdom for all of us.
[00:11:24.630]Dr. Scalora takes frequent calls from people
[00:11:27.050]in Nebraska and across the country seeking his advice
[00:11:30.010]and expertise, but occasionally
[00:11:32.107]he finds a way to disconnect.
[00:11:34.880]Sometimes, you just unplug or get away.
[00:11:37.283]I exercise it doesn't always look that way,
[00:11:40.190]but I try to exercise or walk around.
[00:11:42.690]And I find my friends
[00:11:46.527]and people I care about
[00:11:48.150]are huge a piece things that make me happy,
[00:11:50.970]as well as my family
[00:11:52.780]His life hack
[00:11:53.672]I use this phrase,
[00:11:55.137]"I vote with my feet, not with my thumbs."
[00:11:57.850]And I realize that I may sound sort of odd,
[00:12:00.910]but I find that it is better sometimes
[00:12:02.850]to just meet with people face-to-face
[00:12:05.070]or to talk to them than to be communicating with my thumbs.
[00:12:11.530]And I use the term "vote with your feet" that you know,
[00:12:14.965]you show the value when the things where you show up.
[00:12:18.740]Showing up is important or where you put
[00:12:21.650]your energy and attention,
[00:12:23.210]so for me my life hack is reminding myself,
[00:12:26.487]"Where do I need to put my attention?
[00:12:28.445]Where is it important for me to be engaged."
[00:12:33.180]I think we get so used to doing multitasking all the time
[00:12:37.987]that we forget about the things
[00:12:40.170]where we need to just be present.
[00:12:42.600]Because of his area of research,
[00:12:44.410]Dr. Scalora deals with serious issues and events,
[00:12:47.970]but he doesn't worry about it much.
[00:12:49.910]He says that he is "generally concerned about
[00:12:52.280]the possibility of a tornado than a terrorist attack,"
[00:12:56.040]but when asked, he does have some advice.
[00:12:59.330]I get asked, "What should I do when I travel?"
[00:13:02.170]I will tell you what I tell my kids,
[00:13:03.800]make sure your phone is always charged, fully charged
[00:13:06.880]bring a backup charging power source,
[00:13:11.780]have cash in your pocket.
[00:13:14.390]If you get lost, there is an emergency,
[00:13:17.710]a crisis, a weather event,
[00:13:20.140]the system goes down, a power outage,
[00:13:22.730]you at least have some resources with you.
[00:13:26.370]And you have a means of trying
[00:13:28.940]to reach out and contact the world.
[00:13:31.250]We can't control everything that happens,
[00:13:33.200]but we at least give ourselves
[00:13:34.530]the means to be a little better prepared.
[00:13:37.626]And now, graduation day. Time for final thoughts.
[00:13:48.830]As it gets close to kick off,
[00:13:50.700]Dr. Scalora slips into the area outside
[00:13:53.210]the stadium locker rooms where fans are gathered
[00:13:55.610]to watch the team take the field.
[00:14:01.900]It's been decades since Mario Scalora left the East Coast
[00:14:05.049]and discovered a new area of research
[00:14:07.630]and new collaborations in Nebraska.
[00:14:10.160]He doesn't regret his choice.
[00:14:12.630]It's a lot less bureaucratic here,
[00:14:14.441]and I think people here realize
[00:14:17.698]you have to figure out ways to
[00:14:19.460]make things happen or things don't happen.
[00:14:22.090]We're not plush with resources
[00:14:24.540]and so I like the Nebraska way of trying
[00:14:28.520]to problem solve and make things happen
[00:14:31.250]and I've always been very grateful,
[00:14:33.400]even though it hasn't always been easy
[00:14:35.850]being able to work with our partners
[00:14:37.557]to find ways to make things happen
[00:14:40.310]and figure out how to do it.
[00:14:42.380]We couldn't be as productive as we were
[00:14:46.302]without the quality of our partner ships.
[00:14:49.160](upbeat guitar music)
[00:14:52.500]That's it for this edition of Faculty 101.
[00:14:54.654]In the show notes, we link to
[00:14:56.410]the Nebraska Public Policy Center
[00:14:58.330]and the UNL targeted violence research team.
[00:15:01.304](guitar and piano music)
[00:15:05.460]Faculty 101 is produced by
[00:15:07.350]the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:15:09.647](upbeat guitar music)
[00:15:14.100]You can either chose to be worried about something
[00:15:17.060]and let it paralyze you or you think about the helpers
[00:15:21.190]and you recognize that those people
[00:15:23.280]are actually making a difference.
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