Look For Red Flags For Violence In The Workplace

By Ronald Kovach  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Workplace Violence: Eight Questions Facility Managers Should AnswerPt. 2: Planning, Drills, Communication Can Combat Workplace ViolencePt. 3: This Page

Another potential tool for facility managers is to develop a program that focuses on bad behaviors, or “red flags,” and thus the individuals who are most likely to do bad things. The history of most perpetrators of workplace violence, especially active shooters, shows “they’ve had mental issues, behavior issues, they've been in and out of hospitals, and no one knew they were on the campus,” Lang says.

At Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., where Lang was chief security officer, the school created a behavior response, or “red flag,” team [URL: http://www.kennesaw.edu/brt/] and a “Red Flag Reporting” Web form [URL: https://kennesaw-advocate.symplicity.com/care_report/]. The reporting form describes a number of problematical behaviors, including disruptive behavior, mental health concerns, physical endangerment, and sexual misconduct.

As Lang describes it, the site tells readers, in essence: If you hear or see any of these behaviors, you can report them, regardless of whether it involves students, faculty, staff, or anyone else. The person who is being reported does not know who made the report.

The purpose of such a report on these individuals is not to “burn them,” Lang emphasizes, or to generate a disciplinary response, but rather to get them some help.

“We had psychologists that would then contact the people and see if they could get them some help. When we started the program, we had two or three [reports] a month. When I left Kennesaw in 2014, we had hired five psychologists by then and the numbers were up there because the program was being used more and there was an ability to respond more quickly. The students bring a lot of associated problems, with many parents having had them on meds a good portion of their lives, and all of a sudden [at school] they think they don’t have to take them or they start drinking or consuming other recreational-use drugs.”

The school’s current reporting form states: “Kennesaw State University seeks to foster a climate of safety that can only be accomplished with cooperation from everyone in the community. To facilitate the sharing of information, a Behavioral Reporting System has been implemented that allows students, faculty, and staff to report observed behavior that warrants concern. Such behaviors are often referred to as ‘red flags’ because we know that harmful acts, either suicidal or towards others, rarely occur without raising concern in others in the individual’s life.”

ROI's Ultimate Meaning

Given the number of well-publicized workplace violence tragedies in recent years, upper management in general is no longer of the mindset that “It can’t happen here,” Lang says. That can mean more support for security measures, but facility managers still need to be on top of their proposals.
“You need to have your ducks in a row when you go forward now and ask for technology enhancements like early notifications, where you get the cell text and email notifications; early warning systems, where you want to put a siren in with a voice-over; and desktop popup override on your network systems for all desktop computers in an emergency. Those are the kinds of enhancements you need.”

Lang adds, “If you get the response that says ‘What’s the ROI?,’ the answer is, ‘The ROI is one life – one life. Are you willing to sacrifice one life?’ ”

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  posted on 3/31/2015   Article Use Policy

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