Threats from Non-Employees
The agency's new workplace violence team receives a call from a small
field office. The office staff consists of three employees, two
of whom spend much of their workday outside of the office. All
three employees have had close calls in the past in dealing with
violent individuals. On two occasions, clients who came into the
office lost their tempers because they received answers they did
not like. Several times the employees who conducted their
business outside the office were the targets of threats and
aggressive behavior. How can you help us out here in the
field? they asked the workplace violence team.
Presented with this problem, the workplace violence team consulted
with the following organizations:
- The local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the
field office was located;
- Several Federal law enforcement agencies, including the
Federal Protective Service;
- Other Federal Government agencies that had small field
offices and/ or employees who spent most of their workday
outside the office;
- The National Victims' Center;
- Prevention units of State Police in several states where the
agency had field offices.
The agency implemented the following plan not only for the office
that made the initial request, but for many of their other
field offices as well.
- Install a panic button in the office that is connected to a
- Install a video camera (with an audio component) in the public
service area to record any incident that occurs in the office.
- Reconfigure office furniture, especially in public service areas,
to maximize security (e. g., rearrange the office furniture and
dividers to give the appearance that the employee is not alone).
- Train all employees in personal safety techniques.
- Provide back-up for employees in the field when a threatening
situation is suspected.
- Provide employees with copies of the laws regarding
harassment, threats, and stalking in their states.
- Provide employees with lists of state and local organizations
that can assist them in preventing violence and in dealing with
potentially violent situations.
- Arrange for regional and field offices to develop and maintain
liaison with state and local law enforcement agencies.
- Establish a system for employees in the field to check in
periodically throughout the day, e. g., an employee would call
and say, I'm entering the Jones residence, and I will call you
back in 30 minutes.
- Provide cellular phones, personal alarms, and other safety
devices, as appropriate, to employees in the field.
Questions for the Agency Planning Group
- Do you agree with the agency's approach in this case?
- What more could be done?