Security Policies Are Pretty Good As They Are – Two Recent Shootings Prove Otherwise
Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide.
According to Firestorm President, Jim Satterfield, “today, parents trust that their children are safe at school. Employees trust that their workplace is safe. Too many times, these expectations are not met. There are over two million episodes of workplace violence and over 2.1 million episodes of bullying annually in America.”
However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide.
On July 9, 2014, 15-year-old Christopher Farrar walked in to the Tennessee Army National Guard armory with a loaded gun. Motive unknown, Farrar shot 45-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Michael Braden. Braden, who was working, was hit at least once and later died at an area hospital.
“It’s always a tragedy when you lose a soldier under any circumstances…But to lose one like this, it’s just heart-wrenching.” – Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston
Leaving behind a wife and four children, Braden joined the armory in 1987. He was deployed to Kuwait twice during his 27 years of service. Braden’s wife, Jennifer, described her husband as a caregiver. “He always went out of his way to help. I’ve seen him reach in his wallet and pull out his last $10 and give it to somebody.”
Braden was honored with full military honors the following week.
Investigations continue as to how Farrar gained access to the Armory. Protocol states that anyone entering the armory must be buzzed in from the inside of the building. Haston, who oversees the state’s National Guard, said no extra security protocols were planned. He believed “security policies are pretty good as they are.” Although the armory has security cameras, it is unclear if there were any eyewitnesses during the July 9 shooting.
Following the tragedy, Farrar’s house was searched. Investigators found several weapons at the home. An analysis of the weapons found at the house suggested the suspect did not use a gun seized at the armory.
Farrar was formally charged with criminal homicide the day after the shooting.
The July 9 shooting is not an isolated incident. A second shooting occurred just nine months before in October. A guard recruiter, Amos Patton, opened fire and injured three. He concealed the gun in a fanny pack after he was dismissed from active duty for alleged misconduct. At the time of the shooting, security measures were said to be followed correctly.
Any definition of workplace violence must be broad enough to encompass the full range of behaviors that can cause injury, damage property, impede the normal course of work or make workers, managers and customers fear for their safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as, “violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expands this definition to the following: Workplace violence is any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting. It includes but is not limited to beatings, stabbings, suicides, shootings, rapes, near suicides, psychological traumas such as threats, obscene phone calls, an intimidating presence and (including cyber-bullying) harassment of any nature such as being followed, sworn at or shouted at.
“OSHA recognizes workplace violence as a hazard and expects organizations to provide a safe workplace.”- Jim Satterfield
Preventing Workplace Violence
While Firestorm responds to assist firms in crisis, we prefer to assist businesses and schools to prevent or mitigate risks before they occur. To many, crises come as a surprise. When in reality, the risk was known. Workplace violence is a prime example. Building a Workplace Violence Prevention Program, using Firestorm’s unique PREDICT.PLAN.PERFORM.® process, is accomplished through the following phases:
The PREDICT Phase:
Assess your company’s current readiness level;
Identify and classify the critical risks;
Ascertain critical decisions, analyze gaps;
Identify infrastructure needs; and
Define reporting and investigating requirements.
The PLAN Phase
Develop the strategy;
Construct the plan, including policies & procedures;
Identify key personnel; and
Develop training and awareness programs.
The PERFORM Phase
Establish protocols for implementation;
First responder/community involvement;
Test exercises; and
Audits/reviews, updates, and compliance.
Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment
A Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment program provides the certainty that is expected by identifying and helping those who are a potential risk to themselves and others before violence occurs. Unfortunately, without these programs, we first learn of the threat after it has happened, and it’s too late for everyone. Explaining why you didn’t see the problem coming will not help you or your company/school. You are on notice. These threats are real.
Workplace Violence Self-Assessment
The Firestorm Workplace Violence Self-Assessment offers a diagnostic tool that provides an in-depth evaluation of your organization’s readiness. The self-assessment:
- Measures current performance levels and assesses your readiness to prevent and respond to acts of workplace violence.
- Establishes a baseline, and sets up process improvement metrics to ensure the best possible return on the resources invested.
- Is completed in a one-hour interview.
Workplace Violence Toolkit
Steps need to be taken to prevent workplace violence. Firestorm offers a Workplace Violence Toolkit for companies. The toolkit is designed to step you through a logical process analyzing your company’s vulnerabilities, establishing priorities and creating a culture of preparedness.
The Toolkit package includes one enterprise license for your client’s corporate headquarters location. The license includes the following:
- One Workplace Violence Toolkit Binder with 18 individual sections that include relevant materials for the implementation of a Workplace Violence Prevention Program.
- Access to up to two (2) pre-recorded webinars on topics related to the design or implementation of a Workplace Violence Prevention Program.
- One (1) two-hour teleconference with a Firestorm principal to discuss relevant workplace violence initiatives. Additional consulting is available.
- Two Workplace Violence Self-Assessments within 12 months from initial contract.