Prevention

Organizational Development

 

Threat Management Team

Taskforce responsible for security assessment, policy and program development and threat response. Members can consist of a variety of professionals including Human Resources, Legal Counsel, upper Management, Security, EAP, front line supervisors and employees and outside community resources. Ideally, this group will meet at least semi-annually to review prior incidents and re-assess risk factors.

The team may also seek input and advise from law enforcement, mental health, victim advocacy agencies, legal and security consultant professionals.

A lead coordinator will ensure tasks and responsibilities are delegated and completed. They also can act as the central contact and maintain records of meetings, assessments, reports and investigation procedures. An emergency contact system should be established to ensure that members can be reached at any time.

Training is necessary to ensure knowledge and ability to assess threats and expedite security implementation.

Risk Analysis

A general assessment of organizational vulnerabilities should be conducted on a regular basis. Components include:

Incident Audit: Review records to determine frequency and extent of previous incidents including Workers Compensation, Disciplinary records, OSHA reports, security reports and other pertinent documents.

Procedural Assessment: Review hi-risk work procedures such as cash handling, working alone, working at night, entry and egress vulnerabilities; employee ID protocol and other issues.

Facility Assessment: Review physical layout and security devices. Lighting, barriers, CCTV, entry control and security personnel are some components of the procedures of Crime Prevention through Environmental Development.

Employee Survey: Confidential survey of employee concerns, unreported incidents and most importantly, assessment of what employees would do if confronted with an issue or threat.

Policy

Personnel Policy must be comprehensive to include various types of workplace threats including intimate relations, clients and strangers along with co-worker issues. A good policy provides support and protections along with prohibited actions and sanctions. Include an anti-retaliation clause to encourage reporting, prohibit weapons and clearly states the mission to prevent violence in the workplace.

Contact Peace at Work for support for your policy.

 

Hiring and Termination Practices

Hiring Practices: Dependant on the position and responsibilities, conduct a criminal background check, in-depth job references and civil court records. Interview questions focus on inter-personal relationship skills and conflict management.

Termination Protocol: Ensure Respect and Dignity in all procedures for individual terminations and group lay-offs. Protect access to facility and information systems.

Training

Regular and documented training should occur for all staff. Understanding of workplace violence principals, organizational policies, identification of warning signs, proper response and de-escalation of hostile behavior should be provided to frontline staff while supervisors and management can receive additional training on threat management and security implementation. The Threat Management Team should receive intensive training on risk analysis and legal considerations. Case study review will familiarize members with team members perspectives and values.

Report System

Develop forms and chain or reporting so that warnings and threats are quickly passed on to the Threat Management Team. Forms should be readily available to all employees. Forms and investigation documents need to be carefully recorded and maintained. Employees should have multiple options to report concerns. Training should include common obstacles to reporting concerns such as fear of retaliation and creating problems for fellow co-workers.

A database of reports should be kept to easily generate regular reports indicating hi-risk areas and organizational vulnerabilities.

Threat Assessment*

This refers to a threat assessment of a specific threat or issue, not about general workplace vulnerabilities.

Threat Assessment Team

It may be the team coordinator who first gathers the facts and determines if the whole team needs to be notified and convened.

Gather together a knowledgeable and capable team to determine the severity of the threat. If the threat warrants, do not schedule a meeting; get together now via phone if necessary.

Contact local law enforcement. Consider other community resources such as mental health, victim advocates and security consultants.

Investigate Report

Determine the incident or issue that first raised the concern. What happened to cause the investigation? Obtain reports from as many witnesses as possible. Collect evidence such as threatening messages or damaged property.

The incident is the cause of the investigation and is the reason for any disciplinary action. However, the goal of the investigation is to determine the potential threat. The incident or precipitating action may be minor but reveal a serious threat. Conversely, a serious transgression, such as bringing a gun to work, may have a low level of actual threat.

Of particular importance is if they had made a threat. Often, veiled or even ambiguous threats are made to potential targets. However, more direct statements are made to co-workers, friends and acquaintances. Any reference to a clear, detailed, laid-out plan is a serious red flag.

Previous History

Investigate the subject’s previous criminal background with particular relevance to violent or inter-personal crimes. The local courthouse can provide records for that district but services are available for statewide and national data. Note, however, these background checks often do not indicate if a person has been previously charged but was not convicted of the

Determine if there were any protection or restraining orders placed against the individual. Also, determine if the person has a concealed weapons

Current Situation

Consider how a mental health evaluation can be conducted. Employees may be referred to an Employee Assistance Program and then possibly for a psychiatric evaluation led by a professional with experience in violence assessment.

Consider the level of stability in their lives: Are they going through a divorce or separation; personal bankruptcy; mental health or substance abuse issues and/or other life changes. Are they at the end of their rope?

Violent incidents often occur around significant dates: before or after court trials with issues such as restraining orders, custody hearings, divorce, grievance hearings and workers compensation claims. Also consider the anniversaries of certain events such as losing a job or marriages. While there are cases of assailants coming back years later, most incidents occur soon after a negative job action or after a victim leaves an abuser.

Consider the person

While there is controversy over the value of “a profile”, there are some characteristics that may warrant concern. No particular characteristic is definitive sign of danger; they are only factors in the bigger picture. However, certain personality traits have been noted in previous incidents.

Someone who blames everyone else. It is never their fault; they place responsibility for their situation on others, often bitterly.

Fascination with weapons and violence. As the majority of violent incidents involved firearms, a suspect’s familiarity and possession of one is key indicator.

In domestic violence cases, abusers who demonstrate a deep sense of ownership of the victim are particularly dangerous. Frequent law enforcement contact, injuring or killing the victim’s pets and kidnapping incidents are common pre-indicators to homicide.

Continual Assessment

Once a threat has been identified, it is never completely annulled. Through out the investigation, the risk and vulnerabilities must be constantly assessed to maintain safety.

A suspect’s situation may change quickly and often, requiring the consistent and dedicated attention from those responsible for security.

Once a specific threat has been resolved, it would be wise to periodically review the suspect to determine if new concerns warrant further investigation.

 

Security Measures*

Develop a response plan

The most crucial aspect of a security plan is to detail what should be done if the perpetrator comes to the workplace.

Be able to spot the suspect. A description of them and their vehicle (or preferably a picture) can be distributed to those responsible for being on watch. Security devices such as discreet warning buzzers and alarms can be invaluable in these situations and follow a pre-determined plan which may include

Calling law enforcement

Notifying security, if available

Locking all entrances to the facility

Warning any identified targets

Allowing passage on a pre-determined escape route or to a safe location.

Assess the work environment

Initially, a general assessment of the environmental vulnerabilities can be made. This would not only help address the immediate threat but improve the general safety of the workplace from all forms of threats.

This is also known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED.

Aspects such as lighting surrounding the facility and in the parking lot, accessibility to the buildings, bushes and trees around entrances that can hide an offender and the use of surveillance equipment are all items to be considered.

Limit entry to facility, reduce accessibility and assess condition of locks, doors and windows. Provided that easy egress is maintained at all portals, the only entry would be at one door and only by screened visitors or employees.

Law enforcement can be indispensable in this step. Request for increased patrols, especially at shift change and other identified key times.

Legal Measures

Consult with your legal counsel.

Consider obtaining a workplace restraining order, if available in your state. If there is domestic violence restraining order, request a copy which lists the workplace as a restricted area.

Obtain a trespass order against the individual from coming onto the property.

Criminal charges: While states may vary in titles and details, most have criminal charges that may be utilized:

Harassment; Communicating threats; Damage to property; Assault

Protecting Targets

Screen and/or change the target’s phone extension and emails. However, it is important to keep the previous extension in order to save any threatening messages for future court evidence.

Change the location of the target workplace to a safer spot, away from entrances and windows. However, they should not be isolated.

Offer the target the chance to relocate to another division or plant with in or possibly out of state.

Modify the target schedule and work assignments to help elude the suspect and/or offer a safer alternative.

Offer the target’s a parking spot to a more secure location or at least one that is closer to an entrance. Also provide security escort to and from their car.

In situations of extreme danger, protect the target and the workplace by providing leave for period of time. Leave options can be considered and a truly supportive management would provide the means to temporarily hide out, i.e. a providing a hotel room in another location.

Most Effective Protection Measures

Hire off-duty law enforcement for security

Hire a security firm for professional assessment and security measures

Hire private investigator to monitor the suspects activity

If the facility permits, keep the doors locked constantly, opened only to authorized personnel.

The time length for these measures depends on investigation results.

 

 

* Please note that these points are meant to provide ideas and suggestions as to how to assess and respond to a potential threat. Every situation is unique and requires a immediate, in-depth investigation and proper utilization of resources to determine the safest response. Get the right people on the job and give them the resources and authority to effectively address the situation.