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Month: September, 2014

The Changing Attitudes of Workplace Violence

Attitudes are changing about workplace violence (WPV).It’s a slow process, but things are starting to change for the better in preventing this crime.

An article by one of the nation’s foremost authorities on WPV, Steve Albrecht, states that the normal path of action for threats of violence in a business are changing. The cease & desist order letter is going away.

Again, this letter, long a standard with legal departments across the country, has been found to be virtually an impotent and not as much a deterrent as once thought. The article brief is below.

It’s also interesting to note that some businesses and organizations are actually beginning to believe that it can happen to them. More companies are beginning to develop and implement disaster recovery plans specifically for workplace violence. Additionally, they are also training their employees in this issue as well.

I don’t believe that they are moving fast enough in this aspect, but at least they are moving in the right direction. And the direction is the correct one, even if it is meandering like a school kid afraid of telling their parents about getting into trouble by shooting spit wads at the teacher.

Yes, WPV is something that occurs everywhere. It can strike a business and force it to shut its doors. And worse, it can force families to bury loved ones. From sons and daughters to mothers, fathers, and grandparents.

The perception of most employees is that their employers simply don’t care about preventing WPV. The Allied-Barton survey in 2010 stated that only 17% of employees believe that their employer has a commitment in preventing an incident of WPV!

Cease and Desist: Empty Words without Action
SecurityInfoWatch.com (08/04/14) Albrecht, Steve
Steve Albrecht, an expert on the issues of workplace and school violence, says that the commonly used tactic of sending cease-and-desist letters to individuals who threaten a company or its employees is often ineffective and can be counterproductive. Albrecht says there are different kinds of “threatens,” from disgruntled former employees and vendors, to aggrieved customers or an employee’s abusive domestic partner. Their methods of making threats will often signal how dangerous they actually are: those who hide behind anonymous e-mails or phone calls are likely to be persistent but pose no serious threat to physical safety, while those who identify themselves or even make their threats in person on company property can be very dangerous. A common tactic deployed by company counsel to counter threatener’s is sending “strongly worded” cease-and-desist letters that threaten some form of legal action, from a temporary restraining order to seeking the threatener’s arrest, should they fail to comply. However, Albrecht says that unless the legal threats in these letters are followed through, they may end up only inciting the threatener to make more threats. For this reason, Albrecht recommends reserving cease-and-desist letters for serious cases and following up with the promised legal action if the threats do not stop.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

Facing an Active Shooter

In the movies, on TV, books, and video games we see and witness shoot outs. They are literally everywhere. In our current society you have to have a big shoot out if the material is to be successful! And of course, every writer, film maker, actor, hip-hop artist, and video game designer wants it to be successful, to make money.

But who wants to witness an active shooter in their place of employment, especially when you may be the target? I think I can fully say with confidence, no one. And to add a bit to this…No one wants to see real blood, guts, and brain matter splattered all over the walls and floors. Great in fiction, not so much in reality.

Let me attempt to give you my nickel’s worth of advice;

Some states allow citizens to openly carry their firearms. If you want to, and you live in such a state, by all means do so.  (States with the least restrictive firearm laws usually see the fewest firearm crimes. And rarely do mass shootings occur in a state that allows open carry).

But if you’re at work, school, or out and about, that may not be an option for you or your cohorts.  However, a useful methodology has developed over the past few years or so:  it’s called “Run, Hide, or Fight.”

1:  Run  if you can, because it’s the safest thing to do. If you can get out of the line of fire and away from the area where the shooter is, do it. This is why evacuation plans exist in most businesses. Although only 17% of businesses have an active shooter evacuation plan, it still makes sense.

If your employer doesn’t have such a plan, then do what you can to make up your own. If you know that the shooter is a current/former employee, then take this advice; DO NOT take the planned evacuation routes.

What?  How crazy is that?  But think: who knows the evacuation route better than a current/former employee? If that shooter is going to target specific people, then they’ll know which routes to cover and began shooting at those who are running to get out.

2:  Hide  if you can take cover do it.  Find a good “hidey hole” and stay there until the police or other emergency personnel come looking for you and everyone else.  It doesn’t matter where this “hidey hole” is, just as long as it will keep you safe and sound.

Once you’re in the hidey-hole, , stay quiet. It does no good to hide away from a shooter, but then make a sound that gives away your location. If you have asthma or a cold, that may not be possible, so in that case, for the safety  of your friends and co-workers, find another place to hide.

  1. Fight. If you decide you can make it out of your hidey hole and be safe, then by all means make a run for it. But you must face the reality of possibly confronting the shooter. Use whatever is at hand to distract them and get the sights off yourself.  Throw stuff.  Staplers, cups, vases, books, folders, binders, phones, even chairs — anything freestanding you can get your hands on — make excellent weapons at a moment’s notice.

Remember that most  active shooter incidents are targeted. If people other than the intended victims get shot, it’s because the shooter’s aim was off or people accidentally got in the way.

Despite what the media and talking heads would have you believe most shooters will not just randomly start shooting at anyone and everyone.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at: 480-251-5197

http://www.Facebook.com\OneistooMany), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

What Constitutes Workplace Violence (WPV)?

This is a question that may be surprising for some people. For those of us in the field and who consult in this area, it’s as obvious as the nose on our faces. However, many people not in the WPV, and some in security, field simply don’t realize what actually constitutes an act of Workplace violence.

Most people, even those in security, business management, or legal departments, believe that WPV only occurs when an employee, or former, brings a firearm into the business, with the intention of harming others. Nothing could be further from the truth, even if they want to deny it for liability reasons.

While 85% of all WPV incidents are actually accompanied by another crime i.e. robbery, it takes in many facets to its nature. Here is the list of what can actually be construed as WPV. And some of these may be hard to accept and others you may thunk yourself on the forehead, like a V-8 commercial;

  • Arson – if it’s done to harm people in the building
  • Vandalism – it can result in safety/security issues and therefore…
  • Harassment – either physical or even sexual
  • Threats – and this has several layers as well, veiled and etc.
  • Actual assaults- this would include throwing items in anger i.e. pens and such
  • Verbal assaults – including unnecessary dressing downs by supervisory personnel
  • Hoaxes – yes even hoaxes are WPV i.e. bomb threats/or pulling a false fire alarm
  • Child & domestic abuse within the business by a customer

Bullying – the person being bullied may just act like a trapped rat and turn the tables

WPV, even in its narrowest form, takes in ANY event that could possibly lead to or incite violence within the workplace. In other words, look at these and think about whether or not they could either cause or cause someone else to commit violence in some form or another.

And yet another aspect of WPV that shocks people is that every single business in the country has been the victim at one point or another. Even one person companies can experience a form of WPV. Only the deadly incidents are reported in the media and get the attention, therefore verbal assaults are not reported, unless a threat is involved.

And what single business person has not been the victim of a verbal assault by an upset customer, patient, student, or otherwise? And whether you want to believe it or not, it happens and will continue to happen.

WPV can best be described as an epidemic to American business. It’s been a buzz word for more than 30 years and is still near the top on most security director lists of potential hazards their companies face. Additionally, in many cases there is literally nothing we can do to prevent it!

Incidents such as child abuse, domestic violence (against customers), armed robberies, and the like are nearly impossible to prevent. And many times when store employees step in to assist the ‘victim’ they will deny an incident or it was merely an accident!

So, what can we do to prevent this problem from following your business and potentially closing it down because of the financial drain? Vigilance, being prepared, and training both yourself and employees is the only way.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

Can we prevent any of it?

I am constantly bombarded with that question from non-security and security people. Can we prevent any incidence of workplace violence (WPV)? The simple answer is yes and no. Quite an oxymoron, idn’t it? Let me explain.

The answer is yes, we can prevent certain forms of WPV. Those are the ones that actually occur with our employees. From bullying, vandalism, harassment, & assault. And even from customers we can prevent those as well, sometimes.

But on the other hand we can’t prevent many other kinds of WPV. And these far outnumber the ones we can. Here is a small sampling of what we can’t prevent;

Robberies with assault

Arson after hours

Verbal assaults from employees (most of the time) or customers

Domestic abuse from customers against customers

Child abuse by a customer

Random acts i.e. a shotgun blast through a drive thru window for no reason

In this society we live in, free, we can’t protect everyone from everything, especially violence. Therefore, we have to be as protective as we can and take the steps to lessen the impact or possibility of violence occurring in our businesses and offices.

From the stereotypical ‘angry employee’ to the customer who comes in and begins verbally assaulting everyone and everything, we need to have the training, policies, procedures, & people to stop it. And as I said above, there is no way we can prevent everything and all types of violence in our businesses.

But those who are there to protect us, or trained to do so, need to know that you are there to back them up and not down grade or denigrate what they do. If they are in the right, no matter how asinine it may seem, we need to back them up. If they’re wrong, then it’ll be rectified by management (or at least we hope so anyway).

And as far as whether an incident can be prevented, we need to look at other possibilities for responsibility other than just the security people. From those making the policies/procedures i.e. human resources & the c-suite, to the individual managers in charge of their people ignoring warning signs of someone who may turn out to be violent.

Again, the answer to ‘Can we prevent any of it’ is simple. Yes & no. It just depends on which facet of WPV we encounter in the course of the day.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

Writing a Professional report

One of the biggest complaints from clients in the protection industry, (‘guard’) is the fact that the officers can’t write reports. I should say, being more specific, reports that are legible and understandable!

You may think that in this day and age that everyone who is working such a communication and customer service oriented field would know how to write. But, sadly, many don’t. Some officers don’t even know how to spell, even if they’ve went to and gaduated high skool!

Do I know all the answers to writing good reports for clients and ones that will stand up in court? Not by a long shot. But I can help keep you and your company outa trouble.

Language

Don’t write using verbose or flowery language, this isn’t a college level language class. Write your report like you’re telling a friend what happened. Be conversational.

Abbreviations

  • Spell out any abbreviations the first time you write them and then put the abbreviation right behind it- then just the abbreviation throughout

 

Time

Put the time you are writing the report, not the time the incident occurred.

  • Always use military time, this helps to avoid confusion (a little secret for you military time starts at 0001)
  • Keep the report in chronological order as the officer knows it. In other times, write the report with the details as the officer learns them. If a fight occurs at 0400 but the officer doesn’t realize it until 0600, then he starts the report at 0600! Never write the report as if you’re omnipotent.
  • Use the word ‘approximately or approx.’ when writing the time. Not everyone’s watch keeps the same time. By using the term approximately you keep both the officer and the report from being questioned

Style

It should always be written in the 3rd person. Again, this will help alleviate any confusion as to who did what, when. If you have multiple officers involved, it will definitely help keep the story line straight.

  • Write your report as per current business guidelines. That could mean indenting or not. It used to be, back when I started, you indented. Nowadays, business writing doesn’t indent.
  • Proper grammar will also help you from being questioned about your intelligence. Grammar (6th grade level) as well as spelling, punctuation, and the like should be monitored. Always have the officer have a dictionary

Beginning and End of

  • If allowed, then they also should draw an X through the empty part of the report, to prevent someone else from writing and adding to it. If not an X, then maybe a line that says ‘end of report’.

 

  • Fill out the report form completely. Leave no spaces unfilled. If you have empty spaces when you’re finished, then place something like N/A or unk. In them. Again, it makes it look formal and complete.

 

Conclusion

Every security company, their clients, and others, who employ proprietary officers, have a different way of writing their reports. I think it should be a standardized format for ease in courts and elsewhere, but…

These above guidelines are just that, guidelines. Everywhere an officer goes the format is bound to be a little different. And in the security field, how the client or security company wants their reports is the way you’ll write them.

Just take care and remember these tips and you should be able to write reports that stand up in court or an unemployment hearing.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

Profiling

Over the past few months there has been more than a few notable incidents where profiling has raised its ugly head. And of course living in Arizona, I get a lot of these kinds of stories. But they have occurred in every state in the Union.
From Ferguson Missoura to New York City, to Miami Fl. And let’s throw in Texas, California, and Michigan just to boot (not to mention the other 44).
But is it fair to say that one ethnic group is being singled out over another? Should black teenagers be stopped simply because they’re wearing hoodies? Should Muslim’s be pulled over just because they’re wearing a turban? And Hispanic’s be pulled over because of the color of their skin?
Just because more than 80% of illegal immigrants are Hispanic, and more than 50% of terrorism incidents are threatened and carried out by Muslims, is that any reason to stop them? And what about the teenagers who walk in the middle of the street and wear hoodies? I have your answer right here. YES!
Now let me go a bit further on this issue and explain;
We all profile people every second, minute, & single day of the year. Whether we believe we do or not. Here are some examples for you to consider of ways we profile someone or a group. And think of your first impression when you read these. Then think about other issues that may cause these actions;
• All of those damned ‘rent-a-cops’ who just want to make your job harder
• The man walking down the street, who may wobble or stumble
• The teenager who is wearing their pants on their butt and can’t walk right
• The brat in the grocery store throwing a tantrum?
• The employee with red rheumy eyes?
• The person who can’t seem to concentrate very well
• The security officer with food stains on their shirt
• The person who rants and raves against everything
• The young boy who profiles a gorgeous classmate – He’s harassing her
• The job applicant who doesn’t wear appropriate clothes– They don’t give a s***
• The ‘hard-assed’ security officer at the entrance – He’s just an a******
These are all examples of the way we profile people. There may be good reasons for any and all of these groups doing what they’re doing. But all we do is profile them. And after we profile them, then that profile sticks in our mind, possibly forever. At least until it is changed by the person or group.
Look at your daily life and see who you profile. If someone makes a bad impression then we are profiling them. Maybe not intentionally, but…
Every single day we make hundreds, possibly thousands, of profiles of people we see. Some of them may be valid and others may not. Some of our profiling will target bad people and unfortunately other profiling will render judgment on good people that isn’t fair.
In security, it’s not necessarily the right thing to do to profile someone, yet we instruct our officers and managers to profile employees, vendors, & visitors one way or another. But taking a different perspective on this, do we have to profile others in order to protect the company, client, employees, visitors, and even the United States?
Unequivocally YES we do! Because if we don’t then we’re not doing our job. Do we need, as security professionals, to temper this with common sense and training so we don’t accuse someone recklessly of theft, terrorism, or other hooliganish behavior? YES WE DO!
Take a look at the items above and see where we can profile inadvertently. Then look at the fact that we may be mistaken. All I ask is that next time you begin to accuse someone of profiling, look back and see who YOU have profiled in the past hour or day yourself, and why.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

The New Threatscape

The New Threatscape

By: Dr. Steve Albrecht: August 20, 2014

(This blog is a re-post from Dr. Albrecht in linkedin. He is one of the foremost WPV experts in the country. His website is http://www.drstevealbrecht.com)

                I’m just back from the week-long international conference in Anaheim, CA for the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP). The news from the frontlines of workplace violence prevention, school violence prevention, domestic violence, and stalking response is a cautious mixture of hope and pessimism. On the one hand, my threat assessment colleagues in HR, security, law enforcement, and mental health continue to develop new and better ways to intervene in the cases that reach their attention. On the other, we don’t always get the chance to intervene in some cases until the perpetrator acts out, which is often way too late. There seem to be several recurring reasons for this: some organizations still don’t take the potential for workplace violence (or domestic violence crossover from home to work) seriously enough to have a policy or enforce it effectively; many organizations still don’t offer training on workplace violence warning signs, which are most often seen by the threatener’s co-workers, who need to have the courage to report their fears; and few organizations want to take the time to conduct regular “Active Shooter” drills using the national protocol of Run-Hide-Fight.

FBI Supervisory Agent Andre Simons spoke at the ATAP Conference, coining the useful phrase “threatscape” to define the areas where potentially violent perpetrators intersect with their targets, in workplaces, schools, malls, churches, and other public areas where they attempt to carry out their often highly-organized plans to harm. The good news is that we are seeing workplace homicide numbers fall year after year. The bad news is that schools are seeing more violence. The good news is that we are learning from each event and stopping more and more potential shooters before they cause a tragedy. The bad news is that future perpetrators are learning from our violence risk assessment methods and police tactics too, to perhaps be even more deadly than their predecessors. Our vigilance, and awareness of their “leakage” and warning behaviors, are our best defense when these actors move along the path from violent ideas to violent actions in the new “threatscape.”

 

                Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

                His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

                He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

WPV in…where?

Ah, my favorite time of year is upon us. And while the air is not yet crisp or the leaves falling in Arizona, I still feel the tingling as I always do. It’s football season! And I can quote a character from my favorite book series about this time of year “I’d rather be the stomach on the couch than the eye in the sky!”

                NFL preseason is going strong. The Arena League is having their 27th Arena Bowl championship. College football will be starting on the 30th in Ernest. Ah, it’s great to be a couch potato! But you now ask what does football have to do with WPV?

                Well, it’s not just football, but also hockey, soccer, basketball, baseball, and NASCAR. And if you want to go further, then it’s even occurred in figure skating! What am I talking about? How does WPV occur in sports that are inherently violent? And figure skating? Yes, even figure skating.

                Football, hockey, and other such physical sports are inherently violent. But when the players or individuals step out of the sport for extra curricula violence (read ‘Unsportsmanlike conduct’) then it’s WPV. Here are a few examples of what I mean;

  • The Nancy Kerrigan ‘kneeing’ by Tonya Harding
  • The biting off of Evander Holyfield’s ear by Mike Tyson
  • Toney Stewart killing a fellow driver (accidental or not stupidity or not)
  • An MMA fighter brutally beating his girlfriend because he lost a match
  • Sliding into base with spikes exposed to the 2nd baseman or shortstop
  • The breaking of a nose, on purpose during a soccer match  
  • The ejection of a player for ‘unnecessary roughness’ during a high intensity football game
  • The breaking of a players leg during the playoffs in the NHL
  • Punches thrown during a basketball game or choking your coach i.e. Letrell Spreewell

Do I really need to keep going? As the football season starts off, baseball season ending, and hockey beginning we’ll see our share of WPV incidents. It is certain that it won’t be called that by the broadcasters, mainly because, I don’t believe, it’s never been addressed this way before.

                But, just like violence within police responses, hospital staff being assaulted, and security officers being verbally assaulted on a regular basis, there’s not a whole lot can be done. Ejections and fines will only hurt so much to any of these people. And in some cases, what hurts more is the ruins of their careers and money making abilities doing what they love i.e. Mike Tyson & Tonya Harding.

                The only thing that we as spectators can do is try to prevail upon the owners, coaches, & players themselves to embarrass and humiliate their teammates, in a way not to expose them to liability. But as long as the green is there that won’t happen. And these athletes will go on like nothing has ever happened and they’re innocent and everyone is against them. Too bad for us and them.

 

                Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.

                His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.

                He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page (One is too Many), Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.

 The quote in the first paragraph comes from Al Giordino a character from Clive Cussler’s series about NUMA, the National Underwater Marine Agency and its main hero, Dirk Pitt.