Last summer, in response to recent workplace violence events in the news, VRSA Public Safety Specialist Gary Dillon and VRSA Senior Safety Consultant Eddie Shelton were invited by Town of Vinton Human Resources Director Donna Collins and the town’s safety committee to review the town’s security and employee protection plans.
Dillon and Shelton visited the town and recommended areas where the town could make modifications to strengthen their security. Based on their recommendations, the town council approved $100,000 in emergency funding for modifications to the town’s municipal building – which houses the town council meetings, police department, and town administrative offices.
“While much attention should be given to the inside of buildings, members must also be aware of vulnerabilities outside of their facilities, particularly around doorways where an offender may attempt to conceal themselves to assault an employee or enter a secure access point,” said Dillon.
These upgrades along with descriptions may be viewed below:
Video cameras have been placed on the interior and exterior of the building, with recorded live feeds streaming to the human resources department, town conference room, police department, and the town manager’s office. In addition to this, the town conducted tree-trimming work to increase exterior visibility of the property.
Prior to these upgrades, the offices of the town manager, assistant town manager, employee break room and human resources offices were accessible without checks on those entering the facility.
Upgrades included the addition of a call button with camera which notifies the appropriate office when called of a visitor. The identify of the entrant may be confirmed and access granted by unlocking the door from their particular office. Necessary employees have been given key cards to access this area.
This also prevents access to the council members entrance and exit points. In the event of an emergency council, along with town leadership, may exit the council chambers. Additionally, an active shooter or other threat would not be able to enter the council from the front (behind council), thereby allowing police to better monitor the entrants and any arising situation(s).
The utilities collection, finance department, and planning and zoning were previously only protected by a wooden counter. These areas handle money and work with private citizen and business information.The upgrade authorized the purchase and installation of bulletproof glass between the employees and potential threats.
“Our members must be open to the public for payments, questions, etc. This puts them at a unique exposure to theft, harassment or other workplace violence events,” said Shelton. “Anything our members can do to create obstacles is a step toward protecting employees. This may range from heightened desks, glass or other material between the collection desks and the customer, video surveillance, panic alarms, all the way to your procedures on cash handling can greatly deter and reduce exposure to these all to common workplace violence events.”
The funding allowed for the placement of emergency switches in employee-controlled areas. These switches are based on the hazard – one for evacuation, one for lockdown. For lockdown mode, all exterior doors to the building are automatically locked from the outside, forbidding any entrants during that time (with the exception of emergency responders).
Once depressed, lighting on the roof directs employee response. In addition to the lighting, there is also an audible alarm that alerts employees and sends a message to emergency dispatch.
For more information on securing your facilities, visit: www.vrsa.us.