What Homeland Security Wants You to Know About Workplace Violence

Even though the recent attack in San Bernadino turned out to be terrorism rather than a general disgruntled employee attack, it still prompts us to ask the question, “Is my office prepared for an attack?”

Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to panic. Your chances of being injured or killed by terrorism or workplace violence are very low. Very low. Nevertheless, we prepare so if something does happen, we’re ready and can react in the best way possible.

The Department of Homeland Security has a document on how to respond to an active shooter that you should check out. For instance, you have to decide whether to evacuate or hide out. (Evacuate if at all possible). Hide behind a door or heavy furniture and put your cell phone on silent. If you can, call 911. If you can’t speak, just leave the line open and allow the operator to listen.

They also explain what a police response will likely look like. For instance, they say:

To keep reading, click here: What Homeland Security Wants You to Know About Workplace Violence

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9 thoughts on “What Homeland Security Wants You to Know About Workplace Violence

  1. While the San Bernardino shootings were — no doubt — acts of terrorism, they also appear to be, partly, workplace violence, too. Immediately before leaving the premises and returning shooting, the employee got into an argument with a co-worker, a Messianic Jew — and one of those killed — over Islam. Either way, since the U. S. now averages more than one mass shooting per day, people need to be trained how to respond.

    1. That was not an example of workplace violence. Neither ISIS nor Al Queda nor any of the other Islamic terrorist organizations like Jewish people period. They all make killing Jewish people a priority, all you have to do to know this is to pay attention to what they say and do. You will recall the Charlie Hebdo killers went to a kosher grocery store later that day and killed people there. That was not a coincidence. The Jewish coworker could have listened to NPR, but he was still Jewish, so he would still be killed. That’s how bigotry works.

      I would not use San Bernardino as an example of workplace violence. I would most certainly not imply that any of the coworkers deserved to be killed for “badthink.” I’m sure it’s a cosmic coincidence that the woman who made that claim is named Stasi, ever so fitting for someone who thinks like her.

      Farook and Malik were hateful bigots who murdered because they were hateful bigots; they could easily have chosen a movie theater, a soccer stadium, a concert hall, a subway, or an airplane, just as their colleagues-in-terror did. They just happened to choose instead the place where their coworkers were kind enough to give them a baby shower. They were so hateful they would rather die murdering people than raise their child. It’s all on them.

    2. This has nothing to do with workplace violence. They were CLEARLY planning something BIG – you don’t amass that much ammunition and explosives plus body armor for no reason. Furthermore, they clearly had something planned for that day. They dropped their infant off at his mother’s house and said they had an appointment.

      At the MOST, the argument influenced the target, but there is no way that it actually had any effect on the decision to start blowing people up.

  2. I wish they’d go into detail about the fighting part, because that’s the only advice that would be useful where I work. I’m at a newspaper, and the morning of the Hebdo shooting one of the reporters wondered what we’d do if someone tried that with us. We realized we would be screwed, because of the following:

    We have no real security. One guard at the front desk on the main floor. She can’t see who comes in the building because of a column between her station and the [glass] doors, so she can’t react until well after the fact.

    All the doors are glass, so easily shot through. On our floor there’s one long hallway, which has the only two exit points, so you’d get shot on the way to them. If there are two bad guys then all it would take is one standing in the hall while the other comes into the work areas. Open floor plans, so nowhere to hide. Plus, two here use walkers, so neither hiding nor fleeing is on the table for them. Few doors to barricade behind; most of the little conference rooms have glass walls.

    Whoever designed our building gave no thought at all to security. They barely gave any thought to handicap accessibility, but I could save that for another rant.

    Some of my coworkers carry (especially the ones living in our city, notorious for a poor police response time), but I don’t know if they carry in the office. Neither hiding nor fleeing is an option; we’d have to fight. That’s why I’m reallly, really glad this is statistically not likely to be an issue. And grateful none of my coworkers seem likely to be a Vester Flanagan.

    1. This sounds a lot like my workplace. One long hallway with offices on either side, paper thin doors and “fake” walls made from thin paneling, front doors completely glass and unlocked because they don’t have pushbars, and it would violate the fire code to lock them. Even pulling a fire alarm in a case like this would mean you’d have to go into the hallway and find it. There are also more than a few of us who have conceal carry permits, but our company policy does not allow firearms on the premises. We’d get fired if that was discovered. There is increasing violence in the neighborhood, more drug problems, and shootings during the day, but nothing has been done about security.

      The part about hiding? Where? Under a cubicle desk behind a door that any person could kick through in a minute?

      I had never thought about these things before, but now, when I walk into work, I see a barrel where I am the fish.

  3. I worked in a very bullying organization. The mid level managers were just plain nasty to staff and humiliated us and bullied us endlessly. We employees worked in normal offices accessible to the general public. Middle and Senior management and HR worked behind bullet proof glass that required a special pass key to get into (like in a bank). We had several instances where employees had breakdowns after being bullied and became violent. Management and HR were locked safely in their bullet-proof suites and the first people they called were PR.

  4. Thank you, Suzanne. Regardless of the reason, we must remain vigilant when it comes to disgruntled employees. We never know where or when it may come but keeping these things at the forefront is very important.

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