Domestic Spillover – How it relates to Workplace Violence.
“It’s Not Going To Happen To Me” is a poor security plan!!!
Since founding the Shaffer Security Group in 2015, Shaffer has worked with many organizations not only to conduct security assessments but also to develop and implement security solutions through training in active shooter response and workplace violence prevention.
Shaffer notes that there are some clear distinctions in culture across industries that allow some to be better prepared for a violent situation in the workplace. He notes, “Most manufacturing facilities and large workshops do a fantastic job of making ‘Safety First.’ They often post large signs to remind their employees to ‘Think Safety’ as they count the number of days without a work-related injury. However, most non-manufacturing firms, such as corporate offices, law firms, [or] large data processing centers do not feel that safety is all that necessary, when in fact it is essential.”
There appears to be a pervasive attitude in industries without a baked-in safety and security culture, with both leadership and employees focusing on physical security only after a critical incident occurs. Shaffer frames this attitude simply: “Everyone thinks, ‘it’s not going to happen to me.’”
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that approximately 2 million people will be victims of nonfatal workplace violence each year, with about 1,000 people dying due to a violent incident at work. While these numbers suggest that a violent workplace event is unlikely, that unlikelihood does not excuse employers from prioritizing the security of their employees, regardless of industry. Shaffer says that “the safety and well-being of employees needs to become a communicated corporate value.”
“It’s Not Going To Happen to Me” is not a good security plan, states Shaffer.
Firms Need to Develop a “Portal” in which their Employees can reports incidents of Domestic Violence or Abuse.
Another hurdle employers have to overcome is the fact their employees who are victims of domestic abuse are frequently reluctant to share their circumstances. This reluctance is driven, in part, by the stigma associated with being a domestic abuse victim. Even worse, the victim may actually believe that their abuse is deserved.
Companies need to implement a workplace violence policy that includes language addressing domestic spillover is a great way to start. Regular review of this policy with employees can help to alleviate concerns.
These policies must be endorsed and communicated from the top down. For the policies to have real effect, there must not only be C-suite buy-in and implementation, but the employees must sincerely believe that their workplace is a safe haven.
Some questions for security leaders to ask themselves:
- Does our organization have a mechanism by which the victim can report domestic abuse?
- Are our reception, security, human resources, and legal staff aware of domestic spillover threats? Could they recognize those threats if they walked in the door?
- Does our organization have intervention-capable employees trained to help diffuse conflicts or violence?
- What are our legal requirements to protect our employees?
Developing Your Active Shooter Response Plan:
Does your firm have an Active Shooter Response Plan? Has your plan been communicated to your employees? Do you routinely have Active Shooter Response Drills?
As you are aware, the national conversation and the most recent statistics show that violence in the workplace is becoming more common. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 5% of all businesses experience an instance of workplace violence each year. For larger organizations with over 1,000 employees, this rate is increased tenfold to 50 percent. A 2014 report from the FBI found active shooter incidents in the U.S. now occur on an average of once a month. Of these incidents, almost half (45.6 percent) occurred at a business while nearly a quarter (24.4 percent) occurred at schools and institutions of higher learning.
Although active threats can vary from incident to incident, the common threads found throughout can be woven together to create an effective and successful safety program. The following are bullet-points from lessons learned gleaned from research & years of experience fighting terrorism both on and off the battlefield. I help businesses develop tools for building a solid foundation for a safety-minded workplace. Then, I teach them how to respond when violence visits.
Mindset to Clear the First Hurdle:
More often than not, active threat training is the elephant in the room. Everyone has seen or heard of incidents, but are reluctant to take the steps toward mitigation. The reasons may vary. From believing it’ll make employees more fearful than empowered; to worrying the training might not be “right” for the team. However, looking the other way is not a solution to any problem, much less one with deadly consequences.
Statistics show an active shooter incident is more of an ‘when‘ than an ‘if‘. Unfortunately, violence doesn’t discriminate on where it can take place. It could happen at your headquarters, warehouse or storefront. All aspects of your business should be involved in preventative measures.
Breaking through the barrier of apprehension begins “One Team, One Goal” approach. Leadership should evaluate the type of training that fits their organization’s culture. Supervisors should communicate the importance of such training to employees, and clearly explain how the training will be implemented.
Flexible Response Plans:
Violence is seldom a cookie cutter affair, and a “one size fits all” response is an ineffective solution. Conversely, having too many threat-specific responses can be confusing, if not outright dangerous. While different threats do warrant varying responses, a series of “stovepipe” procedures can cripple an organization during a high stress scenario.
All active threat response plans should be built upon the same principles. Even if the minute details are lost in the heat of the moment, team members can still make informed decisions to ensure their safety. Streamlining processes encourages a quick implementation and retention of information. Knowledge increases confidence, confidence increases decisiveness, and it is decisive action in a critical incident that saves lives.
Proactive Response Plans:
As a result of the number of Active Shooter Events (ASE), there is a movement for companies to have a Plan of Action. For better or worse, increased exposure of violence in the workplace means it an issue thrust into the forefront. A strategy based on “it won’t happen to me” is a folly that can irreparably destroy a brand.
An effective response plan doesn’t begin when the incident occurs, but as soon as training can be conducted. Empowering employees with tools on how to identify and communicate possible high-risk indicators such as signs of growing anger, depression or erratic behavior can be just as, if not more effective, as decisive action during an active threat.
Clear Communication Plans:
A cohesive “one-team” mindset supported by a response plan based on fundamentals cannot take place without clear communication before, during, and after a critical incident. The language plays a critical role in an active threat response program and can dictate the program’s success or failure. Such language should be consistent with current policies and procedures so the program is both effective and legally defensible.
Each company will need to tailor its active threat response plan to fit its culture and workplace environment. Thankfully, a simple concept already exists so organizations may build a clear and coherent plan: “Run, Hide, Fight.”
Communication during a critical incident is not limited to employees. It extends to customer interaction as well. How a company communicates around and with customers during an active threat incident can play a vital role in minimizing the harm as a result of panic.
Every active threat mitigation plan should include an emergency communication strategy which may contain one or two common components:
- First is the use of a code like “Code Adam”. This will notify employees to a specific issue, while customers and vendors remain unaware of any possible threat.
- The second option is to use “plain English”. This will notify everyone quickly which improves situational awareness. For example, instead of using “Code Red” for an active shooter incident, the alert would announce there is an active shooter situation in progress. This will allow employees, customers and vendors to take decisive action.
Every active threat situation will unfold differently. External factors such as the weather, type of environment, and other variables can present unpredictable outcomes. By being proactive, such as implementing sound training strategies, companies can be prepared for and respond to an active threat. Through the empowerment of its most valuable assets – its people – companies can mitigate risks. Thereby, protecting the safety of its employees, customers, and community.
SSG specializes in designing & implementing Active Shooter Response plans for your business, school, or firm. We work with your CSO, Legal, HR and Supervisors to develop a portal to report pre-incident indicators. We help develop and train your Crisis Management Team; and we will train your entire staff in how to identify threats and how to respond in the event of an armed assault.
Contact Shaffer Security Group for your Active Shooter Response training today.
How to Prevent Workplace Violence
Shaffer Security Group (SSG) has helped dozens of Fortune 100’s to develop a “Strategic Security Plan” to help identify & prevent workplace violence.
How Not to be a Victim:
Serial killer Ted Bundy once stated that “he could tell a victim by the way she walked down the street, the tilt of her head, the manner in which she carried herself, etc . . .” (Serial Murder, Holmes & Holmes, 2009)
Multiple studies have been done on how criminals select their victims. As such we have an accurate picture of what criminals look at in order to establish whether someone is vulnerable to victimization. Some of the most recent research on the subject confirms very startling notions.
On many occasions criminals have been asked how they choose their victims or why they fought back with a police officer. A lot of the typical answers are related to matters of natural selection. They choose victims based on comparative physical stature, perceived awareness, whether or not they are alone and gender.
This study shows that the criteria is much more limited. While the aforementioned reasons apply, this new study shows that body language and walking pattern are much more important.
The basic idea of the study was to show inmates 12 videos of people walking. Those 12 people also provided testimony as to whether they were ever victimized. Accuracy was judged on whether the inmates gave those people who had actually been victimized a 6 or higher in a scale of 10 to show vulnerability.
The inmates provided reasoning behind their selections. The study showed that inmates with severe psychopathy chose victims based on gait. Their vulnerability rating also corresponded with individuals which had been previously victimized.
What does this mean to the average person? The way you carry yourself can help single you out or rule you out for victimization. While there is victim selection criteria like your gender or age that you cannot change, you can stack the deck in your favor. Walking confidently and not exhibiting behaviors of distraction such as fidgeting, fumbling with your cell phone, are easy ways to help rule yourself out.
In the simplest terms, do you walk like you have the ability to defend yourself? Do you drag your feet and act like a wounded animal, or do you walk with confidence?
This was brought to my attention at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glenco, Georgia. We were shown countless videos of police officers falling victim to an attacker due to complacency and ultimately how they carried themselves. While you cannot control the people around you or their depravity, you can control whether or not you carry yourself like a victim.
Source: Psychopathy and Victim Selection: The use of Gait as a Cue to Vulnerability, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Angela Book, PhD, Kimberly Costello, PhD, and Joseph A. Camilleri, PhD, 2013