By Michael Heins
Havre public employees recently learned how to deal with threats from disgruntled people or groups and what to do with critical instances in public places.
The group sat through an informative talk by Kevin Olson, assistant chief of Havre Police Department. This included how to handle various threats by angry individuals, threatening phone calls, pranks, disgruntled citizens or groups, copycats and the mentally ill.
The discussion covered the who, what, when, where, why and the hows of security threats against public agencies and personal, which included:
Who This informational meeting was geared towards all public employees who work with the general public in the normal course of business, are responsible for the day-to-day care and or maintenance of a public facility or supervisors;
What Threats to or acts of violence towards the general public, public employees or public facilities in an effort to achieve a particular motive;
When The motive often dictates the time when these types of acts occur; acts of violence can be spontaneous or pre-planned;
Where Any public building, facility or event should be considered potential targets for threats or actual acts of violence. The location can depend on the motive and the time when the act occurs;
Why The motive for the threat of actual violence is often difficult but not impossible to discern. People pre-planning an action, in the past, have made statements as to their intentions;
How The way in which a person or group of people achieve their motives can be by threat or actual acts of violence. The method of threat or act of violence is often dictated by the who, what, when, where and why of the incident.
Olson said the public employees can no longer disregard these incidents as they had in the past. Employees have discounted these threats based on an assessment of the source of the threat. The question that needs to be addressed is how does a public employee determine between statements that are simply an outburst versus warnings of impending violence.
A guideline has been recommended and may be incorporated to assist in this preliminary assessment:
1. All threats of violence acts should be considered real until proven otherwise;
2. All threats of violent acts shall be conveyed to superiors in an effort to make a better assessment of the actual situation;
3. Superiors should involve administrators and law enforcement authorities in the assessment process;
4. Threats of violent acts should be reduced to writing as soon as possible in order to preserve a complete and accurate record as to what actually transpired;
5. Agencies should prepare protocols to assist employees with the process of dealing with threats;
6. Agencies should see to it that all employees, when threatened, may summon law enforcement prior to or while appraising supervisors.
The identification of the person or people involved was another issue discussed and its importance in the assessment process and in any criminal prosecution that should arise.
The means of the threat was also part of the topic such as:
Letter, package, bomb threats;
Threats in person.
Olson concluded the meeting by saying that law enforcement will assist in providing a safe and violence-free work place, but everyone must remember that security for public buildings and facilities rests solely with the respective agency.