Trouble at Work

Violence and threats against federal workers in the last year.

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Dec. 26, 1995, San Jose, Calif.
Mail handler fired after his story about the shooting death of a postal manager is published in an electronic magazine on the World Wide Web.
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Handling Angry or Hostile Customers or Co-Workers
Stay calm. Listen attentively.
Maintain eye contact.
Be courteous and patient.
Keep the situation in your control.
If person shouts, swears or is threatening:
Signal for help using duress alarm or pre- arranged code words.
Have someone else call guard or police.

If someone threatens you with a weapon

Stay calm, maintain eye contact and quietly signal for help with alarm or code words.
Stall for time. Keep talking, but follow the person's instructions.
Don't risk harm to yourself or others.
Never try to grab the weapon.
Watch for a chance to escape to a safe area.
Source: Federal Protective Service

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Dec. 27, 1995, Reno, Nev.
Two men, allegedly disgruntled taxpayers, are charged with planting a bomb outside an IRS building. The bomb fails to ignite. It is the second IRS bombing attempt in a Western state in three months.
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1996, New York
The regional Office of Worker's Compensation closes its doors to walk-in customers--all federal employees--after getting word that a postal employee threatened to kill office employees.
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Prevention Measures for Organizations
Source: Violence Prevention Counselor Anthony Baron

- Pick a crisis management team to assess all threats and set traumatic response policy.
- Survey attitudes, procedures, security systems, conflict resolution and grievance procedures, job design, office layout, safety hazards, past violence and violence readiness.
- Report violence vulnerability to senior managers, brief them about the potential for future violence and its costs, get their written commitment to prevention.
- Set anti-violence policies and procedures stating all threats will be taken seriously and are grounds for dismissal.

- Inform employees about anti-violence procedures, including a means for reporting threats without fear of reprisal.
- Immediately investigate all threats and correct all unsafe conditions.
- Train all employees to recognize hazards, deal with emotionally charged situations, prevent assault and rape, handle disgruntled customers, manage stress and anger, and follow procedures for firings, layoffs and emergencies.
- Develop relationships with in-house and local police, legal counsel, employee assistance providers, crisis counselors and public affairs officers.
- Have a trauma response team.
- Control access to the workplace. Consider having guards present, installing alarms and panic buttons and setting up a buddy system.
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Jan. 10, 1996, Albuquerque, N.M.
An outpatient of the Veterans Affairs hospital shoots and kills an unarmed hospital police officer.
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March 12, 1996, Kansas City, Mo.
5,600 federal employees evacuated from the Richard Bolling Building after local police receive a bomb threat.
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A Taxing Toll

Violent incidents reported by IRS employees.

Fiscal Year Assaults Verbal Threats
1990 37 735
1991 39 675
1992 41 837*
1993 33 738
1994 28 640
1995 29 825
*A change in reporting procedures may have been partially responsible for large 1992 increase. Source: IRS
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March 15, 1996, Eager, Ariz.
A Forest Service employee says he is roughed up while being ejected from a land movement activists meeting featuring a speaker who urges violent resistance to federal authority over public lands. The employee files suit June 3 charging assault and battery.
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April 5, 1996, Texas
Tax protester Charles Ray Polk is convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to blow up the Austin IRS Service Center.
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April 12, 1996, Vacaville, Calif.
A Labor Department mine inspector and his wife are injured when a bomb explodes in a pickup truck in which they were riding. Eight hours before, the Labor Department office had received a telephoned death threat.
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How to Handle a Bomb Threat

Keep calm. Keep talking. Don't hang up.
Signal a co-worker to get on an extension.
Ask the caller to repeat the message. Write it down. Repeat questions, if necessary.
Ask where the bomb is and when it will go off.
Listen for background noises and write down a description.
Write down whether it's a man or woman, pitch of voice, accent, anything else you hear.
Try to get a name, location, telephone number.
Signal a co-worker immediately to call the Federal Protective Service, a contract guard, or the local police.
Notify your supervisor.
Source: Federal Protective Service

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Who Commits Violence at Veterans Affairs
Source: Veterans Affairs Department
Violent
Incidents
Employee
to
employee
Non-employee
to
employee
Total
1993 219 1,429 1,648
1994 188 1,314 1,502
1995 221 1,330 1,551
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May 20, 1996, Laredo, Texas
An explosive device blows out the windows in Walker Plaza, a building housing FBI offices. Security is increased in federal offices in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas.
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June 11, 1996, Santa Cruz, Calif.
A homeless, mentally ill Social Security recipient barricades the entrance to the SSA office and threatens to blow up the building. He leaves the building after it is evacuated and is arrested outside.
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July 1996, Washington, D.C.
The General Services Administration proposes to eliminate 360 parking places to improve security at 19 federal buildings.
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Serious Crimes in Federal Buildings 1995
Source: Federal Protective Service
Homicide 0
Rape 2
Robbery 52
Aggravated Assault 109
Vandalism 1284
Burglary 321
Larceny 4697
Motor Vehicle Theft 231
Arson 19
Simple Assault 545
Bomb Threats 764
Weapons Violations 549
Miscellaneous Offenses 2208
Total 10,816
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July 1, 1996, Phoenix, Ariz.
A dozen members of the Viper Militia are charged with teaching about explosives and techniques in civil disorder and unlawful possession of weapons. The group made videotapes about blowing up government buildings and discussed tracking down families of federal agents, investigators say.
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Oct. 9, 1996, Union Gap, Wash.
FBI arrests three men suspected in a series of bombings and bank robberies in the Spokane area this year. Notes from an anti-government, white supremacist group, the Phineas Priesthood, were left after the attacks during which a gunman shouted support for the anti-government Freemen, then under FBI siege in Montana.

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Oct. 11, 1996, Clarksburg, W.Va.
FBI arrests five members of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia on charges they planned to blow up the FBI's national fingerprint records complex in Clarksburg.
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