Has your organization prepared for an insider threat workplace violence scenario?
The most recent shootings at the Virginia Beach Municipal Public Works Building and the Earl Cabell Federal Building in Dallas are a stark, yet painful reminder that security leaders and the public at large must be ever vigilant with the ongoing threat continuum. 12 victims tragically lost their lives in Virginia Beach. The threats associated with workplace violence; in particular, the insider threat is quite concerning. The Virginia Beach shooter, a 15-year employee of the organization, did not appear to be disenfranchised, nor was his social media imprint on anyone’s radar screen. He even resigned from his position via email the morning of the shootings.
In light of the current challenges, the following question comes to mind:
What are the early indicators towards violence?
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s-Pathway to Violence Warning Signs and What You Can Do; the potential warning signs for individuals are as follows:
- Exhibit increasingly inconsistent and/or hostile behaviors
- Feelings of injustice and/or perceived wrongdoing
- Substance abuse issues, i.e. excessive alcohol/opioid drug usage
- Being social detached/isolated and distant from friends/peers
- Subpar work performance, i.e. tardiness, absenteeism
- Sudden and dramatic changes in home life and/or in personality
- Financial strife, i.e. insurmountable, outstanding, unsecured debts
- Facing legal challenges, i.e. civil or criminal litigation
- Observed grievances, being angry/bitter at the world around them
Furthermore, there exists numerous challenges facing today’s security leaders:
- Active shooter/active assailant
- Errant drones/UAV
- IED/bomb scares
- Inclement/severe weather conditions
- Biological/radiological/chemical agent attacks
- Threat of terrorism, i.e. domestic/international, lone wolf-unpredictable in nature
- Protests, riots, civil disobedience/unrest
- Crowd dynamics/crowd crush, choke points, bottlenecks during ingress and egress screening checkpoints
- Cyber/IT threats/facilities-data privacy and personal information/password protections, malware related issues
Listed below are (5) recommendations for communities/organizations/stakeholders to consider when faced with the aforementioned challenges:
- Organizations are best served when allocating financial resources towards workplace violence awareness/prevention training programs.
- DHS-Run, Hide, Fight and See Something Say Something.
- Train employees to look for pre-attack indicators to violence for troubled, disgruntled co-workers.
- Invest in physical security/technologies, i.e. CCTV, access control, credentialing, background checks/employee vetting, smartphone safety /mass notification apps, responsible social media-monitoring, real-time intelligence gathering and analysis, biometrics, fast pass lanes, etc.
- Establish internal work safety teams with Team leaders having assigned duties/responsibilities on how to lead co-workers to safety during times of crises.
In summary, below are key recommended takeaways for security leaders/organizations/stakeholders to consider implementing within their workplace environments:
- Conduct frequent threat and vulnerability assessments.
- Invest in technology platforms to further safeguard the workplace.
- Review security protocols & procedures on a consistent basis.
- Foster public/private partnerships i.e. JTTF-Joint Terrorism Task Force, fusion centers, U.S. Marshals, FBI, DHS. FEMA.
- Offer verbal de-escalation skills training for your staff. Treating people with dignity and respect is key.
- Situation awareness training key. Having a pre-planned response to best survive the unthinkable is paramount. Proactive vs. Reactive.
- Establish a centralized visitor management system. Proper employee/contractor vetting, background/screening checks.
- Properly train employees/staff in workplace violence awareness/prevention programs adhering to OSHA-Duty of Care is the prevailing theme. Share best practices & lessons learned with industry peers.
- Invite local law enforcement, i.e. first responders, ems, paramedics, fire dept to your work site. Conduct walk thrus with key emergency management personnel, computer simulations and tabletop exercises. Practice, practice, practice.
- Establish key stakeholder workplace safety teams consisting of human resources, security, compliance/IT assurance, facilities, operations, janitorial, housekeeping, etc. as a means of fostering effective/efficient communications in your workplace. An educated staff creates a safer workplace.