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Month: September, 2013

The dots were not connected

September 20, 2013

The dots were not connected

 

                This past Tuesday, Aaron Alexis, 34, gained access to the Naval Ship Yard in Washington D.C. and killed 12 people. He also wounded 14 more (according to the Washington Post) before he was shot and killed by a police officer. This brings the total of people killed and wounded in WPV incidents in 2013 to 94 Dead and 108 Wounded (in Arizona the number is 20 Dead 19 Wounded).

                The ship yard used to contain manufacturing facilities for naval weaponry. Now it is the headquarters for the Navy’s combat Systems division and the Naval Chief of Staff. More than 15,000 people work at the former ship yard and more than 3,000 were in the building that Alexis went into and started firing.

                It is typical that the people who were closest to Alexis have all stated the one thread that binds them together, ‘I didn’t know he was capable of that!’ Of course because they denied the facts in front of them (see the blog poste on Tuesday). But the signs were there and have been for several years. It is unfortunate that the people closest to him were lulled into complacency by being friends with him.

                So what were some of those warning signs that people failed to connect together? Here are 9 signs that I’ve heard about in the media. And no one has actually connected these together in one place. They all claim, justly, that he was ‘mentally ill’;

  • Obsessed with violent games, which he played for hours (alone)
  •  Had unusual/changed behaviors in the past few months
  •  Felt he was treated unfairly by the military
  •  Serious personal stress (felt the contractor he worked for under paid him and estranged from his family)
  •  Had attendance problems both in the military and as a civilian
  •  Was having mental issues (heard voices and was severely paranoid)
  •  Had several arrests for weapons violations in multiple jurisdictions, that no one ‘was aware of’
  •  Had an anger management issue
  •  Had converted to Buddhism in recent years and was fervent about it

 

                If you’ll remember from my previous posts you’ll see multiple warning signs (9 of 21) of Alexis in this list. It is unfortunate that some many lives and families have been changed forever because a few people didn’t see, or know, the warning signs. Another case in point that the warning signs must be taught and known. If we don’t learn them, or keep denying them, then we’ll have many more tragedies like this one.

                Any time we have an incident such as this, or any incident large or small, it always comes down to why no one was able to connect the dots and know what was happening. Is it possible that this tragedy may not have happened if someone had put them all together? Possibly. There are no guarantees in these issues.

                But in order for us to even attempt to avoid such murderous rampages in the workplace we have to absolutely learn how to connect the dots! Much like we do as a kid with the games of connect the dots in a book. Moving from one dot to another to form a complete picture.

                And in order to do that we have to be able to learn what the dots are. Because if we don’t know what to look for and connect, then we won’t recognize it when, and if, we do notice them.

               

            Clients rely on the 30 years of skills, knowledge, & expertise of Sollars Security Shield to ensure the safety and security of their property and their most important asset’s – their people. He helps these companies to avoid the multi-million dollar lawsuits that can result from a single incident of WPV.

            Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace/school violence prevention. He has appeared in numerous media outlets in the past 30 years of being in the field and 20 studying, writing, and speaking about WPV/SV.

            Robert uses the 30 years of field experience to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his experience and the news headlines. Let him do this for you as well. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or visit the website at;

www.sollarssecurityshield.com

Denial

September 16, 2013

Denial

 

                As Americans we have been raised, nee’ born and bred, to see the bright side of most everything. Our parents try to protect us by showing us the bright side of things. Politicians, clergy (of all faiths), social workers, and practically everyone wants us to ‘walk on the sunny side of the street’. And for the most part we do.

                Even those of us who see the dark side of humanity and deal with every day with the innumerable accounts of death, crime, robberies, child abuse, and etc. can still be optimistic at times. Now your question is simply, what the hell does this have to do with security and/or WPV? Good question, and here we go.

                Because we are such an optimistic people, as a whole, we deny the ever present indicators that something is wrong. Whether we are in politics and try to paint a bright picture of the economy (unless you’re of the opposite party) or if you’re a bankruptcy attorney talking a client through such a messy thing.

                We all are in denial of something. And nothing is more in denial than those who are around others who may become dangerous. Either to themselves or others, we deny that something is wrong with them, their attitude, or moods, whatever it may be. Think this is a pessimistic view?

                How many times have you seen the actions of a married person that is in direct contradiction to their marriage vows? The husband or wife is out and taking on affairs as often as they change underwear! We see it, yet the spouse who should be closest is totally oblivious to an issue.

                And the parents who are in total denial of their child’s drug abuse or gang activities. Are they just being blinded because their ‘lil angel’ would never do anything like that – and we see this on a constant basis played out in the courts and elsewhere.

                We deny the bad side of practically everything around us that is closest. If we ‘perceive’ that it’s against us, then of course we’ll notice it. But if it doesn’t concern us, we could care less. And then we make excuses for the actions, attitudes, and moods of others.

                As business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs we don’t see bad omens in the business world because we want our business to succeed. We don’t watch for the small indicators that can, and usually do, build up to the point where they endanger us, the business, and our employees.

                And with WPV it’s the same. In the past I’ve written about the excuses that we give each other about a co-worker and friends, who may be on the edge. We don’t connect the dots and then get surprised when we see, hear, or learn that they have exploded into a rage and hurt someone.

                Denial is a strong word and has some real connotations to it. But as normal everyday Americans we deny the existence of WPV, and SV as well, because we just don’t want to think about it or what may happen. Ostrich Syndrome. We stick our heads in the sand and hope it’ll go away, and then hope like hell we don’t get bit in the butt!

                If you ever saw the original Men in Black movie with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, then you’ll probably remember the line that Tommy spoke to Will in the middle of a Brooklyn neighborhood.

                “There’s always a virus or the world’s about to be destroyed (or something like that . And the only reason we can get along is that we don’t know. We live in our own little world secure in the knowledge that nothing bad will ever happen.” That statement is more true than you realize. And those of us that live the idea of WPV and SV every single day are more aware of it than ever.

                And the problem is that business executives are in denial and don’t really care about security. Whether they don’t care, their mind is on something else (constantly), or they only view security spending as a cost center and one that can’t possibly save or make the company money.

                The moral to this post? Don’t be an Ostrich!

 

            Clients rely on the 30 years of skills, knowledge, & expertise of Sollars Security Shield to ensure the safety and security of their property and their most important asset’s – their people. He helps these companies to avoid the multi-million dollar lawsuits that can result from a single incident of WPV.

            Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace/school violence prevention. He has appeared in numerous media outlets in the past 30 years of being in the field and 20 studying, writing, and speaking about WPV/SV.

            Robert uses the 30 years of field experience to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his experience and the news headlines. Let him do this for you as well. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or visit the website at;

www.sollarssecurityshield.com

Dear Executive

September10, 2013

Dear Executive:

                I wanted to write you a letter and inform you that you are at great risk! And it’s not coming from what you think and worry about on a daily basis, although you really should be concerned every day.

                I’m not going to discuss fraud, theft, and loss of sales, cash flow, licensing, sales, or other normal business activities. I want to discuss security with you. And yes I know you don’t give much thought to it, and think it’s a joke, by that dismissing smile and guffaw waiting to come from your belly when I get through!

                But workplace violence is a real issue for you and American business. You suffer through an incident of WPV practically every hour at your business, in one form or another.  Did you realize that?

                Do you also realize that American business will lose in excess of more than $120 Billionth a year alone? That amount is staggering and comes down to roughly $100,000 to every business every year!

                Why that much you’re asking? Simple really. Workplace violence doesn’t just happen when an employee walks into your business with a firearm and starts shooting. And I’ll agree with you that those occurrences are rare in the business arena. But have you really considered the cost if it does happen? And not only to you and your business, but the livelihood of the people who work for you and their family?

                What you may not realize is that workplace violence takes many forms. The University of South Florida tells us that 50%, of all employees will be subjected to some form of workplace violence this year. From threats, assaults (physical and verbal), harassment, and other forms. Those things can make for a ’HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT’. Hmmmm seems like a readymade lawsuit to me, not based on physical injury.

                A single incident of deadly or even just injurious no matter how badly, workplace violence can cost you your business. How?  Because if it’s deadly then you’re looking at average of $5.6 MILLION in lawsuit awards for each employee/family affected. And the average cost for inadequate security in $1.2 MILLION per occurrence. And then consider the cost to replace all of your equipment, carpets, wall paint, and the cleaning of your office if it is close to being bloody! At least $50,000!

                And you may scoff and say that insurance will cover it. But can you cover the increased costs of your premiums? Your premiums can double, triple, or even quadruple in cost. And if you’re self-insured, then it could get even riskier.

                Add up the costs to your business if the average incident does occur. With one person dead, 4 wounded, and about 25 employees. You’re looking at a cost to you, insurance, or checkbook at a minimum of $12 MILLION. Can you cover that?

                But over and above that consider your most valuable assets, your employees. They are more than asset’s. They make your business run. And if statistics hold true, then you’ll lose about 33% of them after this incident! And you could lose as many as 66% of them. That’s right 2\3 of them! And truthfully, who would want to work for a company that doesn’t seem to care about its people enough to do what was necessary to protect them (maybe you need to look at the OSHA guidelines)?

                And then you have to think of the mental carnage and not just the physical. Those people will need help and will carry the scars long after the incident. Many will carry the loss of a wife, husband, mother, father, son, daughter for their entire lives. Some knowing they could have done something but didn’t for whatever reason. And the anger will be directed at you and your ineptness, at least the lawsuit will say that. But you can say you didn’t know when you get to court. By the way, plausible deniability is not a good option.

                And then your business comes under attack. How will you handle the negative publicity? What about when the press starts hounding you or your spokesman for a statement? And then of course when those valued employees start sharing pictures and words on twitter and Facebook? This my ‘never to be client’ will be your greatest threat to your business. It can shutter your doors quicker than money.

                So, you concentrate on making money and acquiring new business. Someone out there is going to be ‘gunning’ for you and your business. With no security, cameras that barely work and are never monitored, and you who thinks it can’t happen to you. Good Luck!

 

 

            Clients rely on the 30 years of skills, knowledge, & expertise of Sollars Security Shield to ensure the safety and security of their property and their most important asset’s – their people. He helps these companies to avoid the multi-million dollar lawsuits that can result from a single incident of WPV.

            Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace/school violence prevention. He has appeared in numerous media outlets in the past 30 years of being in the field and 20 studying, writing, and speaking about WPV/SV.

            Robert uses the 30 years of field experience to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his experience and the news headlines. Let him do this for you as well. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or visit the website at;

www.sollarssecurityshield.com

Is your company at-risk of an incident?

September 6, 2013

Is your company at-risk of an incident?

 

                It is amazing to me that so many companies, managers, and employees, believe with absolute certainty that they are not at risk of having a WPV incident. Considering that they have assuredly had one already and don’t recognize it as such. Fortunately it wasn’t a deadly one just irritating and frustrating.

                There are certain companies that have attitudes, styles, and cultures that will foster employees and managers to actually consider committing a WPV incident. But anytime you try to discuss it with them, they will pooh pooh the thought and rush you out the door. And why? Liability.

                If they stick their heads in the sand and never actually acknowledge that they may have a problem, and then if something happens they can truthfully say ‘I didn’t know they were capable of doing that. There was no warning!’ And all I can say is that is a bunch of hooey!

                So are you and your company at risk of ignoring an incident? Look at these most prevalent attitudes/management styles/cultures and decide for yourself;

 

Authoritarian Management 

                The best way to describe this style of management is ‘old school’, my way or the highway! No room for debate or questions. No leeway for anything but the corporate line (no matter the results). Do it MY way or you’re fired!

                This is the way most companies managed their employees 3- and more years ago. And unfortunately, many companies, especially smaller ones in the service field, operate. Sometimes, the owners/managers are just worried about failure. Other times it can be a feeling of self-doubt. More than likely it’s an ego trip and they are obsessed with control.

 

Management Incompetence

                Whether the supervisors/managers and c-suite are incompetent is question that may result in employees feeling they have no choice. And if they feel they have no choice, then they will lash out and attack – like a trapped rat.

                Whether the incompetence is real or just perceived doesn’t matter. Remember the old adage I’ve said for years ‘Perception is Reality’. Basically meaning, simply, what the employee/custom or/partner believes is their reality, whether it’s true or not.

 

Perceived unequal treatment

                This is basically the same as the above statement. But this one goes further into a person’ psyche and psychological make-up. If they believe that someone else is getting preferential treatment over them, then it could be trouble.

                Like a puppy or a 2-year-old, these people demand the same treatment as someone else, whether they deserve it or not. This is one my biggest gripes against unions today.

 

Inconsistent enforcement of policies, procedures and treatment by management

                This also falls into play with the last 2 statements. The exception of this is if management (or their representatives) is actually treating some employees differently than others. And they aren’t doing it because of disciplinary, rewarding behavior, or something as likely. They are doing it simply because they don’t know better, they don’t like the one employee, or they haven’t even thought of it because they have tunnel vision in getting it done (which isn’t all bad).

 

NIH: not invented here.

                This is another symptom of the authoritarian style of management. And unfortunately in my 20 years in contract security, I’ve seen this hundreds of times and not a single time was a good idea given anything more than short shrift if it didn’t come from management. The prevalent attitude amongst client contacts is simple. ‘Those idiotic guards are too stupid to have a good idea’.

                And it goes. Good ideas are tossed aside because they came from someone without a degree or worked the front lines.

 

CHH ‘Can’t happen here’

                Not much to say here. This is the most dangerous attitude that a company can have in avoiding WPV. EVERY SINGLE COMPANY I know has had an incident. Maybe not deadly, but they have had one. And yet they deny it because it Can’t Happen Here.

 

Human Resource Departments and how they conduct business

                Too many times, the HR departments are ‘pawns’ of the c-suite. What I mean is that they are just as likely to be treated as an add on or cost center just like security. This makes their jobs even harder. And unfortunately they can’t bend with the wind. And if a tree can’t ben with the wind in a tornado or hurricane, then it will break. And these breaks can result in blood.

 

 

            Clients rely on the 30 years of skills, knowledge, & expertise of Sollars Security Shield to ensure the safety and security of their property and their most important asset’s – their people. He helps these companies to avoid the multi-million dollar lawsuits that can result from a single incident of WPV.

            Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace/school violence prevention. He has appeared in numerous media outlets in the past 30 years of being in the field and 20 studying, writing, and speaking about WPV/SV.

            Robert uses the 30 years of field experience to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his experience and the news headlines. Let him do this for you as well. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or visit the website at;

www.sollarssecurityshield.com

How to Handle High Risk Terminations

September 3, 2013

How to Handle High Risk Terminations

By: Carol Frederickson

 

Every termination situation is FLUID! As new information is discovered the situation may escalate or de-escalate. You need to be constantly re-evaluating the situation and your decisions. The more dangerous the termination the more fluid the situation!

 

When possible, suspend the employee with pay pending an investigation. This allows you to determine the actual threat level and put security steps in place. Suspension is always a better choice than a hasty termination that isn’t well thought out.

 

During the suspension, try your best to be neutral to be positive with the offender. You want to avoid being accusatory even if it is warranted. Advise them that you are looking into the situation and that you want to conduct a thorough investigation. Give them an approximate time line for the suspension and assure them that they will be paid. Be prepared to talk with them and answer their questions and concerns as much as possible.

 

Begin an investigation into the event(s) that led up to the behavior or situation at hand. In most cases this investigation will take much longer than you think and you will uncover a history of bad behavior. Make sure that a basic risk assessment is a part of the investigation. You also want to determine the person’s state of mind and whether they have a permit to carry or have access to guns.

 

Here’s a checklist of things to remember to prepare prior to the termination:

 

  • Document, document, document! Even if you are in an “at-will” state you need to protect yourself from a potential law suit and the best way to do that is through documentation.

 

  • Your security department is a pivotal part of high risk termination. They should be notified early in the process as the physical security of the organization is their responsibility.

 

  • Depending on the threat level consider hiring a consultant to help you through the process or to handle the actual termination. This is important and can be a very cost effective expenditure in the long run.

 

  • Once you have determined the threat level, hire armed security guards or off duty police officers to be present (but not seen) during the termination.

 

  • Consider handling the actual termination at an off-site location. It will be seen as neutral territory and the employee in question is not in fear of being embarrassed in front of fellow employees.

Avoid taking away someone’s hope…it may be all they have to hold on to! Consider offering them a separation package that is at least 10% higher than your normal practice. Offer them job counseling services so they can have help preparing a job resume for future employment. Give them access to EAP services. Explain your company’s COBRA plan (people panic when they think that they will lose their medical benefits).

 

If you have a concern about the terminated employee coming back onto the property then serve him/her with a trespass notice at the termination. If the employee shows up on the company property after the termination he/she can be arrested. If there were threats against an employee or the company you may want to consider an order of protection. In some states an order can be obtained for an entire company versus a single person.

 

Ensure that employees are notified that the terminated individual no longer works for the company and should not have access to the company or any company property. Also, advise employees what to do if they are contacted by this person. While you want to protect the confidentiality of the terminated employee, it is imperative that you protect the safety of all your employees. You do not need to reveal details of the termination.

 

When you are face to face handling the termination remember to stay neutral and offer the person as much respect and decency as you can. Allow them to share their feelings, concerns and fears. Empathy and understanding will serve you both at this point.

 

It is your duty to predict foreseeable risk, to protect employees and (if necessary) warn employees of potential violence. Remember that the situation is FLUID!

 

About Carol Fredrickson

 

Clients rely on Carol Fredrickson’s skills, knowledge and expertise to prevent 6-7 figure lawsuits, and more importantly to avert violent workplace disasters.  She is a recognized authority on workplace violence, conflict in the workplace and personal safety. She has been profiled and interviewed by hundreds of print, radio, and television outlets and she consults with the media on a regular basis.

 

Since 1993 over 100,000 people have benefited from Carol’s powerful message of personal strength and self reliance. She keeps audiences on the edge of their seats with stranger-than-fiction case studies and “worst case scenarios” pulled from hundreds of real-life violent workplace situations – and preventing hundreds more through her work “in the trenches” onsite with corporate clients, partnering with law firms, and working closely with law enforcement agencies nationwide.

 

            Carol Frederickson is a consultant/trainer living in Phoenix and this is her 2nd blog for this site. For more information about Carol’s speaking, training and consulting, visit www.violence-free.com or call 623-242-8797.