Gore: Protect Federal Employees

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Vice President Al Gore Monday issued guidelines aimed at reducing workplace violence in federal agencies.

In a news conference that included remarks by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, and a federal employee who had been assaulted on the job, Gore said the administration is committed to preventing violence against federal workers.

"These new guidelines will help protect federal employees through a step-by-step process in case of an emergency," Gore said. "More importantly, they direct federal departments and agencies to recognize signs of violence and intervene safely to prevent it. By planning ahead, we will save lives."

The guidelines are contained in a 135-page handbook, "Dealing with Workplace Violence," developed by the Office of Personnel Management and an interagency work group. The guide describes how to create crisis management teams, gives examples of written policies on workplace violence and discusses the legal issues involved when protecting employees from danger.

"Violent incidents are relatively rare, but they do occur, and lives can be lost," the handbook warns. "A little preparation and investment in prevention now could save a life."

The guide includes 13 case studies, describing what agencies did in real-life situations, including a shooting in which employees were killed, a suicide attempt, and violent threats made by co-workers. The handbook encourages agencies to discuss how they would handle similar situations.

The guidelines recommend that agencies have teams of experts prepared to handle violent incidents or the threat of violence, including human resources personnel, mental health specialists, legal counsel, security, law enforcement and management. Each group should know the procedures for handling crises.

The new guidelines come a week after the Defense Department issued a new policy requiring service members with domestic violence convictions to surrender their government-issued firearms. A similar policy for civilian Defense employees is being developed.

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