Protecting People, Property & Assets





She’s your company’s employee, and she’s at risk.  Maybe she’s being stalked. Maybe a man in her life is battering her or threatening  to. The man could be her husband or boyfriend; he could be her current partner or an ex. Whatever his relationship to her, she has a desperate problem.

Potentially, your company has a problem too, points out security director Ross A. Olmos, Ph.D. “Companies that don’t try to prevent violent acts against their employees could run into legal trouble,” he says. “For instance, suppose a first-line supervisor becomes aware that a woman employee is being threatened by an abusive male, but the supervisor doesn’t report it. And suppose the man waits for her in the parking lot and beats her up. The company may be liable, because someone in management was aware she was in danger but no action was taken.

Of course, domestic assault and other abuse don’t exclusively target women: studies report that men, too, are victimized. However, companies often find that the employees who are in evident, urgent need of help are female.

Olmos, who is and industrial psychologist as well as a security manager, has helped his company develop a five-step plan to protect endangered employees. His company is Caremark International (Northbrook, Illinois), a healthcare provider. Caremark’s first three steps require employees themselves to take initiative and action. The other two steps are strictly the company’s responsibility.


Step One: She reaches for help, encouraged by the company: Today, most large corporations have employee assistance programs (EAPs), and many small companies contract with outside EAP services. “Through an in-house or external EAP, and employee can be referred to all kinds of help, such as individual and group counseling or halfway houses for abused women.” Olmos says. “However, the endangered women have to reach out for the help themselves. Employers should at least make the intended victim aware that there are agencies and services out there that can help. Our program does this.


Step Two: She files a complaint with police. “Employers should insist that the employee file her own complaint with the police department,” he says. “According to the new stalking laws now on the books in many states, stalking and related threats are considered crimes.

“However,” he continues, “the individual must take the initiative, because the employer cannot file a complaint on her behalf-and this can be a problem area. We’ve found that a woman who has been abused over a long period of time may hesitate to take action against the man. She may repeatedly refuse to sign a complaint or to cooperate in addressing the problem. In such a case, she may really need help through counseling.

”One reason this is a problem for the employer is that the offender may continue to call her at work or hang around the workplace to threaten or bother her. Some employers wait several months before confronting these types of situations, but eventually they have to make a tough decision. Their company is a place of business, after all. Management has to weigh protecting one person against the total amount of disruption that is occurring in the workplace. Eventually, if the woman continues to refuse to take initiative, she should be told. “You need to cooperate, or we may have to consider severing our relationship.”

Often, victims are finally spurred to action when they understand that their jobs could be at stake, Olmos says.


Step Three: The employer helps her learn about, and take advantage of, the applicable laws. “Employers should be aware of all existing laws concerning workplace violence,” he says. Then they should make sure their employees know about stalking laws, orders of protection, and other applicable law. When employees have a problem, the company should provide advice and counseling so that they know how to get help through law enforcement agencies.”


Step Four: The employer warns the offender, in writing, regarding trespass. “This is the first step taken just by the company, not involving participation by the employee,” says Olmos. “If someone is hanging around a company or threatening to come to a company to do harm to an employee, the employer should notify the offender in writing that he can’t come in, on, or through the property, or he will be prosecuted for trespassing. This is important, because by preventing the offender from trespassing, you’re also protecting the offer employees.

“This written notice should be done either through a legal process server or through a registered letter requiring a return receipt. The point is to be able to prove you’ve told the person that he must stay off the property or he will be trespassing and subject to arrest. Almost every state that I' m aware of requires prior notification to enforce the trespass law.”


Step Five: The employer takes swift legal action against offenders. “If the offender is notified but then trespasses anyway, the company should quickly prosecute to whatever extent they can under the law.” Olmos says.

If the offender makes threats or causes injury-to the woman he menacing or to any other company employee-the company has broader latitude. It may consider taking civil action against the offender depending on the law in that place.

In any case, Olmos advises managers to talk to their legal counsel and to take swift action. “Usually,” he says, “if a company has someone arrested for trespassing, that serves as a clear signal to the person that he can’t come to that place of business and fool around. You have to make it plain to offenders that you’re not going to tolerate any action against your employee on your property, including your parking lot and surrounding private area.”




“In too many organizations, bosses at the top are isolated from people in the trenches, so they don’t know about things that are affecting their employees,” says Olmos. “For instance, a female employee may be under a lot of pressure from an abusive male without management being aware of it. When something happens, management may be surprised and embarrassed. It’s important for you, the security manager, and other managers to get the word out to everyone that top management wants to know about threats of violence so that immediate action can be taken.”
















What Would You Guess?


In 1992, how many business and industrial facilities in the United States suffered major fires?


A.      50,000 or fewer?


B.       more than 50,000 but fewer than 100,000 or more?


C.       100,000 or more?


Make your guess.

Then see correct answer on page 8.





What is it that you want your intrusion alarm system to do if burglars try to break in? Scare them away? Attract attention? Report their presence without their knowing it? Collect evidence against them?

You have to answer the question before you can choose the right system for your premises. These days, many security professionals recommend systems that use audio surveillance. These systems not only transmit a signal when the alarm is tripped but also activate microphones. Operators who are monitoring can listen to what’s happening in the building.

What’s the purpose? There are three good purposes, explains Donna Paton, communications director of Sonitrol Corporation (Alexandria, Virginia), a maker of systems:


1. To cut down on false alarms. Police grow annoyed (and maybe slower to respond) if they get frequent false alarm calls. Some communities, in fact, levy fines on alarm owners for false signals. An audio system may be able to verify whether someone is really in the building. If the operators at your alarm monitoring service hear nothing by silence- or even if they hear the meow of a cat or the chirping of a birds that squeezed into your building-they can make the judgement call, perhaps deciding not to bother the police this time.


2. To give the police information that will help them respond. If there’s a real break-in, what’s the situation? How many intruders are there? Do they sound like amateurs or pros? What part of the building are they in? Are they armed? The more details the police are given, the more effectively they can respond.


3. To assist prosecution.         The systems usually taperecord as well as transmit live audio. The recorded evidence may later be usable as evidence for prosecution.


Paton describes the system in action: “An audio systems, like any other, would be turned on when your employees leave the premises. Later, if there’s noise-whether it’s something harmless, such as the wind, or something more sinister, such as glass breaking-the system simultaneously transmits an alarm signal and activates the mikes. The alarm and the sound-feed either go directly to the police or go to your monitoring service, which decides whether to call police.”





Paton illustrates. She invites you to imagine that your system has been activated by the sound of burglars breaking down a door. The operator overhears the following conversion: