Webinar presenter Mark Warren answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Threats & Risk Assessments of Workplace Violence for Justice Agencies. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Given that many of my coworkers are armed, does that impact or change any of your recommendations?
Mark Warren: David, it’s a good question. Not really, to be honest, we’ve got ten people in our office and almost every single one of us carries a weapon but yeah, we still have controlled access doors. We still have impact-resistance cell monitor doors. What we look at that is a delay mechanism to allow us to have a better response should something happen. While it doesn’t impact on my view anything like that where it could obviously is if its incident but now. Let’s face it. Police officers have to get terminated as well. So you’re now bringing an armed person into a termination so what do you usually do? You have two or three armed officers escort that person, remove their weapon and literally take them into whatever meeting. I know it’s happened, I’ve seen it happen so it’s a great question. It does become a part of I think the evaluation that’s got to be taken into account, not knowing specifically the organization that David’s referring to but that’s why from me coming from a police background, trust me we’ve had to fire police officers and in the process of that they’re armed so you have to take that into account. So what do you do? You put those means in place that hopefully allows you to disarm them before you take them into that meeting.
Audience Question: I did want to share a comment from Julie. She says thank you Mark especially focusing on the important link between HR and first-line managers and employees being key for behavior awareness.
Mark Warren: Well, thank you. Obviously sounds like it comes from the HR and I definitely have seen what HR has to deal with at the time when it gets to their place and sometimes it’s more than what they need and a lot of weight on their shoulders when they’re wrong.
Audience Question: Can you suggest an appropriate response if an employee is served at work with an order of protection. Should we consider him a threat?
Mark Warren: That is a great question and again we have seen circumstances where that does happen. If they, let’s say, you had two employees dating, they work together and one of them had to go get an order of protection. Beyond that, the organization has to know because that order may say has to stay away from that person within so many feet, which now means the organization let’s say you’re going after maybe change of work schedules. You’re going to have to re-assign one of them to another schedule. You may have to actually and we have to do this where we actually provide security, armed security at a place that’s employment because of two workers that were intimately involved and one of them made a threat and an ex-parte order of protection was granted and now the organization, OSHA says you have to provide a safe, working environment for your employees. The judge would not issue an order of protection unless there is some type of threat or believed threat against the other individual. So I’m going to answer that as yes. I would treat that as a threat. Now an assessment needs to be done because in law enforcement we usually say there’s three sides to every story, his, hers, and the truth. I think an assessment has to be done and completed by a trained group or a group brought in in order to be able to do that. If there’s an order protection, obviously the courts believe there is some type of potential threat.
Audience Question: In a university environment or school environment, what kinds of strategies are recommended for encouraging students to report threats especially due to the culture of not wanting to be “the snitch.”
Mark Warren: We see this a lot. We worked a lot with K through 12 but we’ve also done quite a bit with universities and it is a different culture because now you’re talking young adults. You’re talking of emancipated adults that 18 and above are responsible for themselves and it is a part of the problem. But what Brendon is specifically talking about, I had happen with for a number of years and it’s generated by our society. This don’t be a tattle-tale society, where does it start? It starts with our own kids when we have two kids and one comes to the parents says, “Hey, Johnny hit me”, and we say don’t be a tattle-tale. So it starts at home with us in culture and then working undercover dealing specifically with confidential informants for five years, I really learned early on that you cannot do your job without them being willing to provide that information. Here in our society where we should want to come forward with information to police, it’s a negative in our society because TV shows, anyone that provides information to the police is a snitch, is a stooly. All of those things that are negative and we’re allowing that in our culture so one, we have to kind of change our way of thinking and the culture itself. What Brendon is talking about specifically is why in our training or in I look at, training is always going on so in the university setting, one, as part of the orientation process for any incoming student, it should be part of the plan that they have to sign off on that orientation process that the university or organizations tolerance of these acts will be and in that we’re going to make a statement that coming forward with information is never construed as vain, a snitch or a stooly. This is something we want all people to come forward with anything. We actually covered that in our training and we talk specifically about this and almost what I told you about where it even starts and why it’s okay and why would we want people to come forward but that’s also why it’s imperative to provide multiple means to report threats rather than face to face contact. In the 2008 by-standard study done by the Secret Service that followed the first one that they did in 2002, they specifically identified that in the school setting that those students with a positive relationship with an adult came forward. Those students with a negative or non-existent relationship with an adult did not come forward. Right there that study alone tells us that you cannot rely on face-to-face information to be the only means of gathering threat information. So, Brendon, I think we want to hit that as many ways as possible whether we have a student newsletter that goes out, maybe write a short paragraph and just make it something that catches them. What would you do if there was a school shooting here today? And use that as a learning opportunity for them and find other means. Maybe you have a Safety Week and at the start of each class, you send out a thing that all of your professors should read that hits on this. So just continue to try to find these many ways to educate people when they are rational, non-emotional and blast out that information frequently.
Audience Question: Do you think the run-hide-fight program is effective or can you recommend something better? This program seems to be losing favor because of its passivity. I think I mispronounce that.
Mark Warren: No, Scott. Might work if you just serve me up a softball or what. That is a real spot for me that I do not like. I’m not in favor of the Run-Hide-Fight and I’ll try and explain why. Please I’m not trying to talk negatively about anything or anyone but I go on just words alone. When Run-Hide-Fight came out, we were in the heat of our contract with the state of Missouri training school personnel and law enforcement together. That contract was awarded in 2008. It wasn’t necessarily popular. The government hadn’t adopted anything else so it was not well known but when it did come out, we tested it. We tested it with a hundred teachers in the hallway, multiple times. I stepped around the corner out of their sight, they know they’re about to get a scenario. I would fire the blank gun, count to five and when I stepped out, half of the people were running towards me. So when it tells you run, the big problem with that is, I have to know which way. We’ve seen it over and over. I’ll give you a couple of circumstances where the Run-Hide-Fight has literally cost lives but when you don’t know where the threat is, how can I really run? In a 30 minute video, they specifically told you run away from the shooter, well yes. That’s important but I have to be able to determine which direction that was and there’s an example of the Navy yard shooting. When trained police officers enter the building where the shooter was at and heard the shots, they thought the shots were on the third floor. They went to the third floor, when they got there they realized, he’s not here he’s on the first floor and evidence, videos and everything later proved he was at the first floor the entire time. Even trained professionals could not tell where or which direction shots were coming from. The second problem that I have is the word hide and words do matter. With the lack of physical training, people can remember the term run hide fight. But the reality is this, where have I ever been trained to properly hide? I have no reference point to go out of so as an adult, when I use the word hide, it now goes back to when I was a kid, hide and seek. That’s the only training that I have and people just get behind something. As an example, if you were to look at the video of the incident that happened at the airport in Florida when the shooter started shooting, you literally had people go and duck down behind a luggage cart. They are still in full plain view but in their mind, they’re hiding. So for me you have to put run-hide-fight into a context that is originally designed for that was one adult making a decision for one adult and it was taught in the 30 minute video it still says this in a sequential manner, “I have to try to run first and if that doesn’t work then I try to hide and if that does not work then I fight.” Now you have trainers that are training in a non-linear fashion. I could try to hide first. If that doesn’t work then I try to run, then if that doesn’t work then I fight. So they’re training it now non-linear which is better than nothing. So we teach and have been teaching since we started in 2007, a three-out principally based response plan and what that simply made you can get out, you can lock out, you can take out. Now in face value of the words sounds familiar but we wanted something based on our law enforcement training we knew what needed to be principally based meaning no particular order, non-linear in fashion. I could have to take out first, knock the shooter down and then you just get out so I could get straight from take out to get out or to a lockout or to get out of an area that I could lock out. So we wanted words that one, a system that is (indiscernible 1:15:12) based. We know that most people under stress in critical instance have trouble remembering more than three steps and finally we wanted something that could be more offensively minded. So if I work in a cubicle space, I understand every day I go to work and I go to work in that space. I cannot lock that space out. Every time I’m there I know that I have two options; I can get out or I can take out, and then I can identify based on my get out possibilities, all of the different ways I could get out of that space that I work in and then mind the game that to the point of if he comes from that direction, this would be my best movement. If he comes from that direction, this is my best get out option. So now I’ve mentally rehearsed and we say it all the time. The body can’t go where the brain is never been so now you start mentally rehearsing that and hopefully, it’s on point you have the chance to hands-on physical training being able to implement that process. What I would say Scott, I can have a discussion. I can talk about that for eight hours alone if you would like or if you have more questions please e-mail me or call me, my cellphone is listed and I can try and talk to you on some more thoughts on that.