Workplace Violence

When domestic Violence Becomes Workplace Violence

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Relational conflict can explode into any environment. Be ready.

A Minnesota man, age 61, was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for a shooting at a gas station. So far it sounds routine, albeit disturbing.

But if you continue, there’s more to the story than a run-of-the-mill holdup. The intruder blasted worker Kenneth Eckstein in the face with a shotgun.

But why?

“Eckstein suffered wounds to his face and hand, but was still able to fight back and knock [the intruder] unconscious. [The intruder] was charged with attempted murder and two counts of assault.”

Behind it all was this: The shooter blamed Eckstein for encouraging his wife to leave him.

When domestic violence leaves home, it often becomes workplace violence.

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I could have cited numerous articles (and we do in our book “Active Threat: Workplace 911”) with the same theme. A former partner (nearly always a male) doesn’t know where his ex lives. But he knows where she works or where her kids to go preschool. He shows up at those places – armed and dangerous.

When this happens, of course, the assaulted worker isn’t the only one who is traumatized (or killed). The entire organization will endure the stress of that incident and it will likely become news around the world.

Although we can’t stop all acts of workplace violence there are several things we can do to resist domestic-based threats invading our space:

1. Understand and educate your workforce about this phenomenon. Ignorance is not bliss.

2. Have an open-door, confidential process where employees can share personal matters that may impact the workplace – especially if they fear for their safety.

3. If you do this, you’ll need a policy on how these reports will be acted upon. It should be part of an overall workplace violence policy.

4. Control access to your facility. It should not be easy for an angry spouse or strangers to stroll into your building unnoticed.

And finally, get training.

A trained, alert employee is of greater value than the most expensive security technology.

We live in a fallen world, and that means things aren’t always “home sweet home.” But that doesn’t mean we leave a welcome mat out for an intruder.

Vaughn Baker

Vaughn Baker is president of Strategos International, a Kansas City, Mo., -based firm that provides security training, consulting and executive protection services. Baker has 20 years of experience in law enforcement including patrol, investigation, SWAT and special operations. He has trained thousands of school, health care, government, law enforcement and military personnel in security practices. Baker has also developed a specialized intruder response curriculum for schools and churches, including some of the nation’s leading training on behavior pattern recognition.

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