Disruptive Individuals

A disruptive individual is someone who:

  • Makes threats of physical harm to you, others or themselves
  • Behaves in a bizarre manner or exhibits unstable behavior patterns
  • Appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Has a weapon (also see active shooter procedures)

If you see a disruptive individual, or a situation that has the potential for violence, try to remain calm and follow these procedures:

Call Security

  • If a panic button is installed in your area, use it
  • Contact Security (212-746-0911) or call 911 if off-site
  • Give your name, location and a description of the individual’s behavior
  • Note any information that would help to identify the individual (i.e., age, appearance, clothing)

Express Authority

  • Sit or stand erect with broad, square shoulders
  • Smile and make eye contact
  • Speak clearly and distinctly
  • Maintain a constant voice volume that is not too loud


  • Stand too close or touch the person
  • Slouch, glare or sigh at the individual

Alert Colleagues

  • If possible, advise coworkers and supervisor of the potential problem

Anger Management Tactics

  • Get their attention: Use their name and ask them to sit down
  • Acknowledge their feelings: Apologize and paraphrase what they say so they will know you are listening
  • Redirect issue: Try to redirect the person to change the focus away from the issue causing aggression
  • Get them moving: Offer a chair, move them out of the public space if applicable and possible
  • Offer assistance: Use the word “we” to include them in the solution process
  • Offer a plan: Tell them exactly what you can do for them and when; offer to have them speak with a supervisor
  • Suggest alternatives: Offer an alternative solution if appropriate

See also: PDF icon Disruptive Individuals Bulletin

Contact Information

Environmental Health and Safety 402 E. 67th Street,
Room LA-0020
New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-7233 Fax: (646) 962-0288