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Employers Are Turning to Workers to Monitor Peers To Prevent Shootings

Posted by Thomas Edwards on June 12, 2019 6:10 PM EDT
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The tragedy in Virginia Beach has spurred bold thinking from many in the crime prevention field....

...and a recent article in the Sunday, June 9th edition of The Washington Post WEEKLY captures some important new trends which may provide hope for communities all over the country.

I was pleased to read a recent article written by Mark Berman that really was encouraging to me as I thought about the senseless tragedy in the shooting deaths at the Municipal Center in Virginia Beach.  While we have a free and open society in America and all public places can be inherently dangerous, the workplace ought to be a place where security can be more assured.

So, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to some of the important words and ideas that the article presented.  I have selectively chosen specific parts of the article for brevity...and impacts sakes.  In doing so, I hope that this will be a trend to solutions that can make employees and their employers feel they have an antidote to cruel and premeditated crime in the work environment.

Author Mark Berman writes: 

"When a city worker opened fire in a Virginia Beach government office last month, killing 11 fellow employees and a contractor, he added another tragedy to the list of horrors recounted by Matt Doherty".

"The former Secret Service agent, who trains office worker on preventing such shootings, had stood at the front of a Chicago conference room just weeks earlier and tallied similar rampages: Seventeen students and staffers massacred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Twelve people gunned down at the Washington Navy Yard.  Five staff members fatally shot at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md.  And only two months earlier, five killed in a warehouse in Aurora, Ill., not far from where Doherty stood".

"Most of these tragedies were preceded by red flags, alarming behaviors and threats of violence from those accused of opening fire, Doherty told the group off office workers in a Chicago high rise".

The article continues:

"Doherty is trying to change the way companies think about active shooter training.  His sessions focus not on what to do if someone opens fire but how to prevent a shooting in the first place".

"The idea is not to get people in trouble, Doherty said, but to sound the alarm well before a crisis".

Research shows that there are often overt or veiled threats and missed signals.  As Berman writes, "Research has shown that shooters frequently alarm people in their lives before their violent rampages, that their actions are often fueled by grievances, and that they target specific places and express a desire to carry out violent acts".

The article continues with a reminder that active due diligence isn't easy, but it's critical to staving off the kinds of senseless slaughter that can be prevented.  "The threat assessment process shouldn't be used to cause problems for a colleague that someone simply doesn't not like, Doherty added.  Rather, the training aims to make employees active participants in the safety of their workplaces".

While the investigation into the horrific tragedy in Virginia Beach's governmental workplace and office environment continues to unfold, it will be most interesting to see what kind of missed signals and precautionary actions could have been put in place ahead of time.  From such unimaginable tragedy must solutions be borne.

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