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Course 720 - Preventing Workplace Violence

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Threats from Non-Employees

The Incident

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.

Response

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.

Resolution

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 security service.

  • 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

  1. Do you agree with the agency's approach in this case?

  2. What more could be done?