|US Post Office||Edmond, OK||14||6|
|Standard Gravure Company||Louisville, KY||8||12|
|Momentum Securities/ All-Tech Investment Group||Atlanta, GA||12||13|
|Edgewater Technology||Wakefield, MA||7|
|Hartford Distributors||Manchester, CT||8||2|
|US ARMY||Fort Hood, TX||13||32|
|US NAVY Yard||Washington, DC||12||3|
|Accent Signage||Minneapolis, MN||6||2|
|Excel Industries||Hesston, KS||3||14|
|Inland Regional Center||San Bernardino, CA||14||22|
In my time spent in the US Army, years as a security professional providing personal protection for business leaders, celebrities and foreign royalty, and finally 20 years as a Law Enforcement Officer - retiring as a Lieutenant - I haven’t necessarily seen it all, but it is close. In my current role at Trustify, I work closely with Trustify’s Founder and CEO Danny Boice to ensure each and every investigator or analyst we bring into our network and every case we take is performed ethically and efficiently. This experience has expanded what I mean by “seeing it all” even further. Yet, the most disturbing has been the rise in mass shootings over this past decade.
Unfortunately, these are just a few examples of terrible incidents of workplace violence committed by current or former employees. The full list is extensive and would be too long to include. Workplace shootings have been occurring in the United States since as early as 1935. Sadly, in recent years they have become much more frequent. The reasons range from being disgruntled over disciplinary issues, stalking of fellow employees to foreign terrorism and mental illness. The question, “Can you prevent these and similar incidents from happening at your company?”...The real answer is, ‘No!’.
What can you do?
- The first step you should take in attempting to prevent these events, happens in the very beginning. The simplest way to do this is via a thorough background investigation before offering employment. Effective background checks come with a financial investment, but it will be money well spent. Please note that there are limits to the information that you will be able to obtain from these investigations. However, you will be able to make a better-informed decision. Be sure to use a human private investigator to obtain the needed information as opposed to a cheap and low-quality public records search service.
- You should ensure your company has an established avenue for reporting issues of threats or uncomfortable situations to leadership. You will also need to properly train the individuals handling these reports in proper techniques of investigation and response.
- Take all threats seriously! Don’t be afraid to notify law enforcement. Even if actions were not criminal; law enforcement can guide you as to the proper steps to take, and ensure the situation is also on their radar.
- Train your staff. Ensure your company offers yearly Emergency Response Training. Many building management companies provide this training for tenants. You can also contact professional security companies or local law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security has a powerpoint training on their website. These materials can be used by your company’s security director to assist with preparing your staff. This training goes into extensive detail and was developed in a partnership with the Fairfax County Police Department from Fairfax, Virginia. The three basic principles are:
- Notify 911 and escape the building, only if safe to do so.
- Hide/shelter in place. Barricade location and remain extremely quiet.
- Take action. If a shooter enters your area, FIGHT!
Your training should include details specific to your office and building designs. It should also include examples of egress pathways, techniques for strong barricades and how staff should respond when law enforcement arrives.
What else can you do?
- Any time an employee is terminated or disciplined for listed reasons; retain a security company that specializes in challenging workplace terminations. These companies will typically have an agent station in or near your workplace on the day of termination. They will also remain for several additional days as a precaution. Historically, the violent events take place within a few days of the termination or disciplinary event.
- Know your employees. The size of your company may limit your ability to manage this step effectively. You should then ensure that your first line supervisors know their staff well, and therefore able to notice changes in behavior.
The past years have taught us that we cannot prevent these horrific events from happening completely. However, we can take the necessary steps to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Not only will establishing training and reporting processes assist with your liability mitigation; it will help with ensuring the safest possible outcome if this horrifying incident takes place in your workplace.