Since the most recent church shooting in Texas my inbox has been flooded with emails from friends, prospects, clients, and even casual acquaintances all asking the same question: how do I protect myself at work?
This year alone we have seen several high profile workplace or church shootings related to domestic violence. So what is happening?
Sadly, this is not a new phenomena.
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act. I was a young police officer in Nashville, TN, and we used the funding to start the largest law enforcement-based Domestic Violence Prevention Unit in the U.S. It became an entire detective division of our police department.
I learned very quickly that domestic violence was a huge workplace problem. Think about it, domestic violence had always been a hush, hush problem that was to be kept behind closed doors.
In the early 1990s, there were very few states that had even criminalized domestic violence. Seriously. Of course if it was a felony assault, then law enforcement could intervene and prosecute on behalf of the victim. But since more than 70% of domestic violence is reported as a misdemeanor, this provides few options for law enforcement intervention if the victim does not want to prosecute.
As Nashville shouldered the responsibility for prosecuting domestic violence offenders and providing safe options for victims like shelters, we were also flooded with cases of stalking that were disrupting the workplace.
Why should we be shocked? If communities do a better job of protecting victims, then those that harm them have to work a little harder to find them. But where is the one place they almost always will be able to find them?
However, most of our workplaces are no match for these sophisticated manipulators.
After September 11, 2001, our organizations spent money to beef up security to protect ourselves from foreign terrorists when it was the domestic terrorist that posed the greatest risk to us.
Paul Dvorak, SafeVisitor Advisory Board Member & a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent, has spent his entire career creating safe perimeters for dignitaries like President Bush and United Nations Representatives.
Once a person of danger gets inside the perimeter, it is very difficult to protect yourself or others. Paul talks of controlling how close people can get to high value targets like the President, and how anybody that gets within arms reach has gone through an extensive background check and security screening process.
How does this apply to my workplace? Well, there are 5 things that every employer should focus on. Listed in order of importance they are:
- Controlling the Flow of Visitors. Many of your employers think they are doing this with a clip board at the front desk or a security guard at the door. This does not work. You need a visitor management system that can ensure your different levels of visitors have received proper vetting before they are allowed into your facility. If an employee discloses they are going through a divorce or has taken out a protective order on a spouse or partner, then that person who represents a perceived threat could be placed on an Excluded Parties List to keep them out of the workplace and away from you and your peers. What are the key components of a quality visitor management system? It is one that:
- Scans Government Issued ID. Validates and confirms identity.
- Mobile ID’s for Frequent Visitors. Requires volunteers, vendors, or more frequent visitors to undergo comprehensive background checks before they are issued an ID.
- GeoFencing. Uses geofencing to ID approved visitors before they are allowed inside the building.
- Background Checks. Ranges from checking Excluded Parties Lists to conducting comprehensive national background checks.
- Accurate Visitor Logs. Accesses a prior visitor’s information.
2. Training. This is not a one-and-done training module but an ongoing process. How do we handle domestic violence? What happens during an active shooter event?
3. Active Shooters. We are starting to see more workplaces implement training and policies related to active shooters. How do we prevent, contain, and protect employees?
4. Communications. During an active shooter event or security incident, it is critical to have communication options that instantly inform your employees and moves them away from danger as quickly as possible.
5. Culture of Confidence. Organizations lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to low productivity related to security issues. Implementing a comprehensive security program raises productivity and can be a great recruiting tool in an economy with low unemployment where prospects have multiple employment options.
I wanted to write this article directly to you employees to say that you need to make your voice heard. Work with your employers to educate them on options for creating a safe work environment.