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Warning Signs Of Workplace Violence

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The shooting in Virginia is putting fears about workplace violence center stage. Tragic events have played out in Oklahoma more than once. The shooting in Virginia is putting fears about workplace violence center stage. Tragic events have played out in Oklahoma more than once.

The shooting in Virginia is putting fears about workplace violence center stage. Tragic events have played out in Oklahoma more than once.

It is nothing new. The days of workplace violence go way back.

“Then I saw Pat Sherill go by with a pistol in his hand,” a witness of the 1986 Edmond Post Office shooting said.

Patrick Sherill shot 22 coworkers. Fourteen died. He then turned the gun on himself.

In 2014 at Vaughn Foods in Moore, another disgruntled employee attacked his coworkers.

Within the last year, Oklahoma City Police have sought charges based on terroristic threats people have made. They have also been called about a dozen times when a terminated employee had the potential of becoming violent. 

“They sometimes hire off duty police officers to be present while the person is collecting their belongings or they actually want them present when the news is given that they’re terminated,” Oklahoma City Police Captain Paco Balderrama said.

You now have to be aware of more than just your surroundings.

Police say one indicator is social media. Often people will post their frustrations before they ever act out on them.

“Directly or indirectly,” Balderrama said. “Somebody makes a threat. I’m going to do this or implies that something is going to happen to management or coworkers.”

James Farris and Associates works with several Oklahoma employers when employees are let go.

“Generally, the first thing you feel if you’re the individual that’s affected is shock when you’re laid off,” Farris said.

If the person doesn't have a strong support group, they can lash out and become violent.  However, the biggest prevention may seem simple, but it is effective.

“The key thing is to try to treat people right. Just do what’s right,” Farris said. “Don’t let things fester to the point where something happens.”

Ferris said if you have concerns, talk to management immediately. The sooner you report any problems, the sooner someone can get the help they need.

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