Teachout Security Solutions


DA Looks to Help Firms and Others Avoid Workplace Violence

When future Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone worked for a security consulting firm following the Sept. 11 attacks, clients consistently ranked one worry ahead of even terrorism: workplace violence

Describing a rise in such cases across both the county and the nation, Leone has formed a special initiative to meet the challenge.

Since taking office, he’s handled a few high-profile examples, like Clyde Howard — the man who shot and killed a co-worker at a Cambridge pool supply company in 2009 after a long-running feud.

Then there was James Brescia, who had Sudbury resident Edward Schiller killed at work in 2006 because Schiller was dating his ex-wife — an example of how personal lives can spill into the workplace, affecting both the victim and traumatizing colleagues.

But not all cases are of the headline-grabbing, crazed gunman variety, Leone told a crowd of social service agency heads in Framingham Wednesday. He’s taken a broader look at the problem and at prevention, he said.

“You have to identify unacceptable behaviors when you see them,” he said. “That’s what you have to focus on.”

Before stopping for a short briefing at the Framingham Community Partners coalition and its gathering at Juniper Hill School, Leone and his team had put on presentations for a number of public and private groups in recent months, including firms like EMC.

The four-hour sessions brought together managers from the same organization working in human resources, security and legal affairs, with several real-world scenarios presented for practice.

The goal is to address problems before they fester and turn into threats, harassment, punches — or worse.

“Think about your workplace,” Leone said. “What do you see? What do you hear?”

The idea of the sessions is to make sure groups have proper policies, plans and training in place, that the message about maintaining the right climate from leadership is clear, and that managers in various divisions are cooperating and coordinating.

During one meeting, Leone said, a manager mentioned the ability to hit a panic button, while another manager didn’t know such an option even existed.

“Everybody thinks they’re all set,” Assistant District Attorney Marian Ryan said. “But there are things they didn’t realize.”

While the sessions are geared toward 50 participants, Leone’s team has worked with private-public partnerships, and companies can combine efforts.

For low-level problems, Leone said he’s OK with organizations handling them internally if they have the proper systems in place. But for anything more, he urges that they call his office, and he promised sensitivity to worries about bad publicity.

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