Podcast Ep. 68: The Future of Domestic Terrorism on the Workplace: Identifying Risks, Protecting Employees, and How D&I Professionals Can Recognize Potential Threats

Jul 13, 2021

In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Zaylore Stout (Zaylore Stout & Associates, LLC) and Jim Potts (Potts & Associates) explore domestic terrorism, how DEI professionals can recognize potential threats, and practical ways to implement situational awareness.

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The world is changing. Communication and technology are bringing our shores closer together. The internet presents an opportunity for violent extremist to reach out all over the world to present their ideologies to anyone willing to listen. Individuals, including children and young adults, are being radicalized which in turn, translates into domestic terrorism. The Oklahoma Bombing, Columbine, Pulse Nightclub, Stoneman Douglas, the US Capitol, mall shootings and places of faith being attacked are all examples of historical events that will be addressed along with statistics while highlighting the detrimental impact of women v. men and hate groups (by state) on workplaces across the country. Understanding why people lash out violently in the workplace is the first step HR and D&I professionals can take towards mitigating risk factors that may materialize in the workplace.

Learning Outcomes
  • Identify eight factors giving rise to domestic terrorism in the workplace
  • Conduct your own site assessment for potential risk factors
  • Develop and execute a federally mandated workplace security plan

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The Forum on Workplace Inclusion  00:00

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 2021 podcast series is sponsored by Best Buy. more diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn more  at bestbuy.com slash more of this.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion  00:16

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 2022 call for proposals is now open. The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is excited to announce the opening of the call for proposals for our 2022 program year, including our 34th annual conference – Solving for X: Tackling inequity in a world of unknowns. Addressing complex challenges can be daunting, especially when the foundations of our structures are shifting. As we look to a future of continuous and unforeseeable change, what must we do to tackle systemic inequities deeply embedded in our everyday environments and on harness inclusive, equitable and sustainable ways of working. We invite you to submit a proposal to be part of the upcoming program year and to help us solve for x. The submission deadline is Monday, August 16 2021, at 11:59pm Central, Learn more at forumworkplaceinclusion.org/cfp/ that’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org/cfp/ . We get to engage people advance ideas and ignite change because of the generous support from our community. If you find our resources meaningful or valuable, please consider supporting the forum today. Visit forumworkplaceinclusion.org/donate. That’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org/donate. Thank you very much for your support and generosity. With that, I’d like to say thank you to all our listeners and subscribers. You help support the growth of the podcast and reach new listeners. If you like what you’re hearing on the forum podcast, please consider writing a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you’ve already written a review, thank you. Please consider sharing our podcast with a friend or family member or a colleague you think might find value in the content. Word of mouth is the best way the Forum grows. So thank you very much for listening and sharing. Thanks again and enjoy the show.

Ben Rue  02:07

Hello, and thank you for tuning in to the Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast series brought to you by Best Buy. I’m Ben Rue program associate here at the forum. We’re looking forward to today’s podcast The Future of Domestic Terrorism on the Workplace: Identifying Risks, Protecting Employees, and How D&I Professionals Can Recognize Potential Threats with Zaylore Stout of Zaylore Stout and Associates, LLC, and Jim Potts of Jim Potts and Associates.

Ben Rue  02:30

The world is changing. Communication and technology are bringing our shores closer together, the internet provides an opportunity for violent extremists to reach out all over the world to present their ideologies anyone willing to listen. individuals, including children and young adults are being radicalized, which in turn translates into domestic terrorism. The Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine, Pulse nightclub, Stoneman Douglas, the US Capitol, mall shootings and places of faith being attacked are all examples of historical events that will be addressed, along with statistics, while highlighting the detrimental impact of women versus men and hate groups by state on workplaces across the country. Understanding why people lash out violently in the workplace is the first step HR and DNI professionals can take towards mitigating risk factors that may materialize in the workplace. In this podcast, you’ll learn how to identify eight factors giving rise to domestic terrorism in the workplace, conduct your own site assessment for potential risk factors and develop an execute a federally mandated workplace security plan. Zaylore Stout was raised in Southern California and received his bachelor’s from California State Fullerton in international business management. He graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2010 and founded his own law firm Zaylore Stout and Associates, which handles employment law matters, which include sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, and Wage and Hour disputes. ZSA is the first LGBTQ certified law firm in the state of Minnesota through the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce at mg LCC. The firm also holds disability and minority owned business certifications. Zaylore serves on the board of directors of quorum fairvote, Minnesota, and previously served as a board member for reclaim and the Minnesota center for book arts. They recently published his first book titled our gay history in 50 states which highlights significant people, places and queer facts relating to LGBTQIA history On a state by state basis, Zaylore is sought after as a guest speaker across the country. And as presented at the Forum on Workplace Inclusion conference or through our podcasts for the past three years. Jim Potts had an approximately 20 years in law enforcement including working as a terrorist investigator. Since 2010, he has created violence in the workplace programs that have included conducting site assessments, writing workplace security plans, procedures and protocols for workplace events and active shooter training. His team members include prior law enforcement and military backgrounds. Jim’s weekly radio show Listen up with Jim Potts consists of everything from a historical perspective on domestic terrorism up to an including current events. Jim also discusses everyday workplace related issues that are creating nightmares for the work environment by managers, and employees. This could include handling conflict, hostile work environment, and hiring and firing practices. He founded Potts and Associates a broad based employment consulting firm practice in unemployment, cost control human resources management, manager and supervisor training and other critical labor relations areas over 30 years ago, Jim is a native of New York, who earned a Bachelor degree in history from California State University at Los Angeles, and a juris doctorate from the University of West Los Angeles law school.

Zaylore Stout  06:11

Well, thanks so much for having us. Super excited to do this training session with my stepfather, Jim Potts, so you have a father son duo here, focusing on the impact of domestic terrorism in the workplace. So let’s just jump right into it. You know, we here in the United States, you know, land of the free home of the brave, we love going out and being social, going to the gym, going to the mall, our places of worship, going to the movies, and that has not been the case over the last year, given the pandemic. And so, you know, most folks have been working remotely. And so that’s going to be changing as people continue to get the vaccine and and we get past this, this big hurdle here. And so Jim, I wanted to start by asking you, the question is, is there a concern that there may be higher levels of violence in the workplace, given the fact that people have been, you know, haven’t been acclimated with interacting with each other in person over the last year?

Jim Potts  07:11

Well, actually, we are expecting some of that only because that was the M.O. before, let’s put it that way, when the more that you have people returning back to the working environment, and we’ve already seen that, in fact, there’s been some active shooter situations already in some work environments. There was one that happened not too long ago at a health clinic, where a 67 year old man shot a nurse and wounded three or four other people that work at the facility. So already we are starting to see these issues start to surface once again.

Zaylore Stout  07:46

Now, is there is there an official definition of what what domestic terrorism means? Because I know that there have been different definitions thrown about so then since this is your area of expertise, what what is it official definition of what it is to be domestic terrorism?

Jim Potts  07:59

You know, that’s that’s actually a good question. But I can tell you that the focus has always been on international terrorism, but it really domestic terrorism is the biggest issue. And there are some definitions, you know, the domestic terrorism or homegrown terrorism, as some people call it, is a form of terrorism in which the victims, it’s within a country are targeted by a perpetrator with the same citizenship as the victims. So there really are many definitions of terrorism, and none of them are probably universally accepted. To be perfectly honest with you. The United States Department of State has defined terrorism way back as far as 2003, as premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non combatant targets by some national groups, or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience now that, that, is the technical name for it, to be perfectly honest with you, but as we as we understand it, you know, as lay people understand it, think about something that happened, like on January 6, that would be an example of domestic terrorism, the work environment, we’ll get into that, we’ll have a different look than that one.

Zaylore Stout  09:11

Okay. Okay. Now, the, the internet has been so great for so many things, but then there’s always these unintended consequences as well. So you know, we have more access to information, you know, people hopefully, sometimes feel less alone where they’re able to connect with folks that may not necessarily be in their immediate vicinity immediate area, but they’re able to connect with them through the internet, you know,  people all across the world. But but it does well, it appears as though the power of the Internet has also allowed for people with some of these radical types of viewpoints to be able to coalesce and get together as well as up in is that something that came up in your research as it relates to this area, Jim?

Jim Potts  09:52

Yeah, you know, um, as you know, my background was in law enforcement. I was a certified terrorist investigator with the LA County Sheriff’s Department. And one of the things that we learned and we used to work on was the internet because people do have access to the internet. And that really is problematic. So you’re right when you say that it’s a great tool for a lot of other reasons. The problem is, is that people become radicalized on the internet, they can turn around and look things up, they can see how to make different devices. There’s just so much with the internet, that that’s bad. From a law enforcement standpoint, we used to actually find and if you listen to the news, from time to time, you’ll see where the FBI has actually stopped somebody from committing some type of, you know, high impact event, because we get on the internet looking for certain things. So the FBI has been successful, and trying to head some of that off. So it’s got a it’s got a bad side to it. But law enforcement is actually using the internet to actually catch some of these people beforehand.

Zaylore Stout  11:00

No, absolutely. And I’m glad that they’re, they’re paying attention. And in the dark web, I always hear about this mysterious dark web area where people are, you know, doing nefarious things, and that there’s actually law enforcement folks focused on on tracking the activity there to try to prevent some of these incidents and situations from happening. But then another, you know, question that normally comes up with folks is, you know, so how can we stop fanatics? How can we stop these fanatics from, you know, self radicalizing or radicalizing to these groups on the internet?

Jim Potts  11:29

Listen, here’s, here’s the bottom line, we can’t stop fanatics. Okay, we can’t, we cannot stop them. But what has to happen is that the general public, including the work environment, you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to know things like when you’re at work or away from work, you have to know your surroundings. And I’m not telling you to be paranoid. What I am saying is that you have to understand we’re living in different times, when this society starts opening back up, and people are now going to be out and about again, you’ve got to always know where you are what’s around, and again, not trying to make you paranoid. And anytime you have any doubts about things, if you see something suspicious, you really do need to call for assistance and let somebody know that something might be going on. Let me give you an example. Being in California, the San Bernardino shooting, what everybody knows about their husband and wife team that did all of those that shooting at that time, well, their neighbors knew something was going on. But they were afraid to call the local authorities because they didn’t want to be classified as racist or people of Middle Eastern descent. Well, they should have said something and hopefully you had they said something, then that situation could have been headed off. Now. I’ll give you an example of preparation. And you’ll hear me give you some safety tips throughout this discussion that we’re going to have today, Zaylore. And some of this will be found on my book, I have a book out called; Domestic Terrorism Safety Tips. It’s on Amazon, by Jim Potts. And you’ll see a lot of information that’s in there regarding safety tips. I’ll give you one example evacuation plans. Evacuation plans need now need to be in the work environment for sure. But let me give you an example how terrorists use evacuation plans to their to their benefit. So you’re staying at a hotel. And on the back of the hotel room door, there’s an evacuation plan, what we have found is that somebody that wants to commit some kind of event, they will look at the same evacuation plan as the people staying in the hotel. That is what they’ll do is set off a small fire in a trash can, the smoke goes up, sets off the sets off the alarm, everybody looks at the evacuation plan, and the evacuation plan says go to the southeast corner of the parking lot, what they’re doing is drawing all of those people out of the hotel to a specific spot. And then when those people get to that specific spot, that’s where they have their explosive device, the device goes off, and all of those people end up getting hurt or killed. So there’s an example we turn around, say, okay, beforehand, let me give you the advice if the if it goes off. I mean, in that kind of situation, don’t go to the southeast corner of the parking lot. The hotel wants you to go there because of the fact that they want to do a headcount to make sure everybody gets get that out, see, well just call them back later and say, I got out. All right. So that’s how you do it.

Zaylore Stout  14:24

So much to think about, you know, do you follow the evacuation plan? Don’t you follow it? What do you do at the end, but I mean, it’s just really a lot of what you said earlier, which is, you know, paying attention to your surroundings and being aware as it relates to those circumstances. But there’s also the lone wolf concept and and I definitely want you to talk a little bit about that, because that it doesn’t seem like there’s much we can do as it relates to these lone wolves, or can we?

Jim Potts  14:47

You know, I’ll tell you something interesting. During the 2016 presidential election, both candidates always talked about international terrorism, international terrorism, international terrorism, when the real focus is domestic Terrorism, lone wolves. So yeah, so your your comment or your question is a really good one, because the lone wolves are the ones that we actually from a law enforcement standpoint that we have a problem with, we can’t determine what makes somebody one day snap and decide that they’re going to do something. Case in point, the, the shooter in Las Vegas, there’s a situation where that’s a lone wolf, he had never had any psychological disorders. And he had never been arrested. So here’s a guy that is carefully planned. And by the way, I was debriefed after that event by the FBI as well as the SWAT team leader. And to this day, we don’t know why he did what he did. And that’s part of the problem with lone wolves. A lot of times, either they’re killed by law enforcement, or they killed themselves. And we never know what motivated them to do it. And his particular case, as an example, he had planned that for over a year, and you see what the end result ended up being, which was devastating. And he, he is somebody, we were classified as an active shooter, to give you an Act to give you an idea.

Zaylore Stout  16:10

Now with the active shooter, again, it’s funny that there’s all these formal definitions in regards to it. So is an active shooter situation only when like three people have been killed, wounded or shot? Or how does that work?

Jim Potts  16:24

active shooters are individuals with the event with the intent on killing on killing people as an example. All right, there’s no doubt about it. But when you hear about it on the news, active shooters normally have, where they have shot and killed or wounded a certain number of people. So three plus killed is normally an event a three plus wounded, you know, excetera and and active shooter situations, by the way, on that the ones that are gang related. All right, those are that’s a whole different ballgame. From that standpoint. Now, I want you to think about something else. active shooter incidents, where we’re all or most at risk, believe it or not, businesses and conference, almost half of the active shooter scenarios. And again, since things started opening up, we’ve already seen already were there, in fact, are situations where businesses are being confronted once again with active shooters. Schools are about 25%. houses of worship, we’ve seen it on the news, government properties to percentages are low health care facilities, believe it or not, they’re at the bottom because healthcare facilities have been dealing with these types of situations for decades. And they have very tight security measures in place because of the emergency room situations, etc. But businesses in general, those are the ones that have to be most cautious. They’re the ones most at risk.

Zaylore Stout  17:51

Wow, that’s really concerning that roughly 50% of the active shooter incidents are in the workplace. And the other part that I want to make sure that people recognize and remember is that, you know, just because an individual that is engaged in the active shooter conduct isn’t an employee of the location doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not business, that that it didn’t occur in a business. So somebody’s coming into a movie theater or going into a mall, right? Just because he didn’t work, there doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s not a business situation in a business event, because there’s people that work there and their customers and guests and clients that are there to right?

Jim Potts  18:24

Well, that would be correct. I mean, it can happen all across the board, quite frankly. And it’s not limited to just employees or former employees.

Zaylore Stout  18:34

So how, how should somebody respond if there’s an active shooter situation in the workplace? What what are the tips you provide as a relates?

Jim Potts  18:40

Well, and thank you for that question. You know, it’s like when you’re on an airplane, and they say that, okay, when a given instructions, and they say, okay, when a facemask drop down, put yours on first, and then you turn to the person next to you and assist them. What we try to get people to understand is that you got to determine the most reasonable way to protect your life first. Okay, if you do that, then your employees as an example, in a work environment, or customers, you know, that they’ll follow so so you gotta you got to look towards you first. I hate to say it is self preservation, but I’m not gonna tell somebody who might have who might have, you know, feel that they want to be a hero in the circumstance to do whatever they have to do. You know, you got to take each circumstance to yourself, but our initial pieces, you got to look to protect your life first, then your employees of your manager, supervisor, customers, or a teacher, whatever the case may be. And then obviously, call 911 when it’s safe to do so.

Zaylore Stout  19:38

Yeah. And I think we’re going to be talking about the 911 calls, as well in a minute. But then there’s so I think there’s there’s different steps. So at first, if you can run or evacuate, you should do that first. So what are insights that people need to be focused on if that’s the first option that’s available to them?

Jim Potts  19:56

You know, here’s the problem. People panic. We try to get people not to panic. Panic creates injuries. As an example, the it’s tough to tell civilians as an example, when a gunshot start going off, take a moment to compose yourself because people typically don’t do that. But if you think about these things beforehand, so if something happens and you practice, then you’ll be ready. Let me give you an example, the Las Vegas shooting, I had people who I had trained months before the Las Vegas shooting that ended up being at that particular event. They call me afterwards and told me that that the safety tips that I gave them actually saved their lives. So I give safety tips about when you are at an open air event like that, like at a concert, etc. We don’t have time today, but it’s in the book. So you have to have, when you go to those places like that, or at your at work, you got to have an escape route. And plan in mind, if something happens, you think about it beforehand, so that if something happens, you’re ready to react, it becomes automatic, okay, so that when that panic piece sets in, you’re going to go in the direction that you have already mentally trained yourself to do it. And look, here’s the other thing people sometimes want to go back to get personal belongings like the ladies like to run back and try to get their purses. Guys with their man bags want to run back to get their man bags. We tell people look, when it’s time to get out, forget those kind of things. Your life comes first. Get out, evacuate and run.

Zaylore Stout  21:26

And, you know, I love that he’s talking about the fact that having a plan and the importance of having a plan. I remember as a kid growing up in California, you know, we always had fire drills, right stop dropping roll, you know, you’re supposed to do if some for some reason, you end up getting on catching on fire. But as well, the the the earthquake drills, right, you know, you get under a chair, chair or table and all of that. So it makes it routine. So you know exactly what you should do under those circumstances is, and one of the sad parts is I remember hearing reports that some of the young staffers that were on Capitol Hill, on January the sixth knew exactly what to do, they did some of the exact same things that we’re going to be going through in this in your in your session today is you know, they learned that from the active shooter training that they had in their schools. And so it’s a sad reality in regards to where we’re at today, that it was a young staffers that knew exactly what to do on Capitol Hill because of the trainings that they had received in the schools.

Jim Potts  22:23

Yeah, no, absolutely, it all comes out that way. And then look, the other, the other side of the coin is, you might not be able to get out. And let me just say something about running. Yeah, the reason why I said you got to take a moment to compose yourself and not panic, just keep something in mind, you can be running toward the shooter. So you got to be careful with that. So but if you can’t get out, the next thing for you to do is to hide out. So you got to hide an area out of view of the shooter. And so let’s just take as an example, you have an office in your office, you hear something going down, you don’t know what direction to go in. So what do you do, you turn off the lights in your office, you close the door, if your door locks, then lock it, let me tell you something about active shooters, they do not shoot door locks off, they do not kick doors down, because they’ve got a limited amount of time. Law enforcement right now takes 12 to 15 minutes to respond to an active shooter situation. So the shooter knows that they’re operating on a limited amount of time. So if you’re in an office situation, you can always go in to be in your office or any office, quite frankly, go in, lock the door, you know, turn off the lights and turn your cell phone off or put it on vibrate. Don’t be in there yelling and screaming into your cell phone, My God, my God is going to shoot me because of their passing by they’re going to hear you. The other thing I tried to tell people is Look, if you can’t lock the door, turn off the light, I want you to hide under the desk. But before you do that, I want you to leave the door semi cracked. The reason why I say that is because a shooter is going to think that if in fact somebody was in there, the door would be locked as opposed to being open. So they will probably bypass that thinking nobody is there. Again, you make that determination for you what you think is best for you at that time. So you do what you can. Sometimes people will block entries, they’ll stack furniture against doors and things of that nature. You know that that’s an option. You got a group of people in there, and certainly you can do that as well.

Zaylore Stout  24:19

Now these are definitely great and important tips for people to be able to think about and be aware of so that so so let’s say you don’t have the ability to be able to evacuate or run hiding out isn’t something that’s that’s an option that’s available for you. What else is there?

Jim Potts  24:33

Fight. We tell we tell people all the time that they’ve got to fight for their lives. The one other thing you might recall in Florida at the Pulse nightclub. You had 300 people in there. It is still amazing to us how people really truly did not fight in terms of, hey, you pick this one shooter, you pick up tables, chairs, bottles, you throw things you do whatever you have to do to fight for your life. That person is there to kill. So the gloves are off whatever you have to do in order to protect your life, that’s what you need to do. And I tell people in that, and the book I just told you about that in there, there’s different things you could do, you know, ashtrays, and I know a lot of people don’t have ashtrays at work, but heavy objects, a can of Coke, or anything that’s heavy, that you could just keep on your desk, believe it or not umbrellas, you know, they have the points on the end, not the ones that destroy the plastic tips, there’s a lot of things that you can have at work that are perfectly legal to have, that you’re going to actually use to your benefit. You got to try to incapacitate the shooter as best you can. any physical aggression, you throw items, shooters don’t expect people to go towards them, they expect people to run away from them. So it’s almost like the guys with the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, what did they do? They went towards the problem, as opposed to away from the problem. Yes, ultimately, they ended up crashing the plane. But this but they would be other people did not expect them to do that. That’s the point. So you have to do the unexpected.

Zaylore Stout  26:06

Right. And then. So when it’s safe, you know that having the ability to be able to call 911. Again, if there’s a shooter outside the door, you’re in close vicinity, that’s not what you want to do. Because clearly something that draws attention to you, I love the fact that you stress the importance of making sure to put your phone on silent and or vibrate, even sometimes vibrate, if it’s really quiet, you’re not going to be the people will be able to hear that. So that’s something that people should be focused on and aware of as well. But what type of information is helpful? Or would be helpful to the 911 operator once you’re able to get on the phone with them? That’s number one. And the other number two question I have is, do people have the ability to text 911? Now, because I think I remember hearing something about that as well.

Jim Potts  26:45

Yes, they have the ability to text as well. But one of the thing is, is we in a situation, the first thing that we want you to do, I know this is difficult, because civilians are not used to being in stressful situations, you got to take a moment to calm down when you’re given information. If you if you’re overly excited and you’re screaming into the phone, it’s going to take the dispatcher longer to get the information. And there’s some basic information that the dispatcher is going to want to know, they’re gonna want to know, as an example, the location of the shooter, the number of shooters, physical description, the physical description doesn’t have to be well, he’s got a scar over his left eye, he’s six, foot two. Keep it simple. He’s tall, he’s short, he’s white, he’s black, he’s thin, he’s heavy. Keep a just that simple. And you know, he’s wearing a black jacket, he’s got on a, you know, a black hat. Just keep it simple that way, then they’re gonna want to know what kind of weapons a person has, you know, we don’t need to know where let’s see, I think that’s a 38. Smith and Wesson, they’re not gonna want to know that big gun, little gun, keep it simple. If it’s a big gun, we’re gonna know what it is. If it’s a smaller gun, we’re gonna know what’s a handgun. So keep it simple. And if you know the number of potential victims of victims, you can say, hey, there’s 20 people that work in their five of them are down, whatever the case may be just that kind of information would be extremely helpful.

Zaylore Stout  28:07

Well, yeah, that’s that’s information that’s necessary for, you know, not only search and rescue folks, but the paramedics and everything, and how many medics are going to be needed in regards to those that may be wounded or injured. So always, always important information.

Jim Potts  28:25

And to be honest with you, in terms of the paramedics, they’re going to be coming from every direction anyway, because they’re not going to know. Okay, so they’re not going to worry about that number. Because a lot of these facilities now, the law enforcement, they’re working together with the hospitals. So automatically, once the word goes out, that is an active shooter, the hospitals and the clinics are already prepared to be receiving victims

Zaylore Stout  28:50

On notice, everybody’s on notice, I’m sure.  So once the law enforcement arrives, I know that there’s certain things that people may do, you know, without thinking that could put themselves at risk. So what are the what are the what’s the insight and the tips that people need to be aware of, once law enforcement actually arrives on scene,

Jim Potts  29:09

Here’s what we want people to do. We want you actually to get down on your knees, we want you to raise both your hands in the air, and if you’re able to get down on your knees. If for some reason, you’re not physically able to do that you’re able to sit on the floor, lay on the floor, whatever you have to do, the biggest thing is hands up and all 10 fingers spread apart, that that’s what we want you to do. And because we want to make sure there’s no weapons. The second thing we want you to do is don’t yell and scream at us when we come in. And the reason for that is, is that we have our ear pieces on and the other law enforcement personnel may be telling us that the shooter has been subdued. The shooter is heading back in your direction. So we need to be able to hear that. The other thing is don’t grab us. Don’t grab on us. The other thing is we don’t want you once you’re down, don’t panic and jump up. Run out. If you do that, and we catch that glimpse out of the corner of our eye, we may flash in that direction. And we don’t want to end up, you know, shooting somebody by accident when they are, in fact, a, an innocent person. And the other thing is, we don’t want you when we, when we give you the instructions to leave, we want you to leave, don’t stop and ask us any questions, follow the directions to get out.

Zaylore Stout  30:23

Yep. So the importance there is, I think what you’re focusing on too, is that, you know, the active shooter can try to blend in with the crowd and evacuate with everybody else. And so, you know, the officers arriving on scene don’t know who the shooter is. And they’re trying to figure that out just like everybody else. And so it’s providing them with the opportunity to know that it’s not you. Right?

Jim Potts  30:46


Zaylore Stout  30:48

With with workplace terrorism and domestic violence, I mean, who who are the folks that tend to engage in this type of conduct, I know that we talked about the lone wolves and stuff, but, but who else tend to be the individuals that are involved in this type of this type of violence in the workplace?

Jim Potts  31:03

Okay, what we’re talking about now, with an active shooter in the workplace, it’s normally a disgruntled current, or former employee, a disgruntled customer, domestic violence situations that spill over into the work environment. And I tell people during my active shooter training, whatever you do, you know, as an individual, don’t give out advice to it to a domestic violence victim, you know, you want to leave him, you want to do this, you’re going to do that, because I’m going to tell you some those victims will quite often, they will take your name home on their lips, and tell the person you know what Jim told me that I should leave you. And now that person feels that you are now interfearing in their relationship, and they’ll come up to the work environment looking for you, and also looking for the victim. And that has happened so many times. So don’t give out personal advice. You can be compassionate, you can listen, and they should be referred to the professionals as opposed to giving out the advice don’t give out advice, in my opinion, and domestic violence situation and disgruntled customers, you have to watch them, they will make threats, and they will actually come back as well. They had one situation where a woman that was working or that that got upset at the cell phone company. And you know, because when you’re when your warranty, I mean, your warranty when it expires, in terms of the plan that you have with the cellphone company. And you come back and you say, Okay, I’m here to get my free phone a year is up. You know, I’ve been loyal. And in a situation where they told me no, I’m sorry, that wasn’t what it was supposed to be. She gets upset, she goes into the parking lot. She gets in her SUV, and she drives through the front window of the of the cell phone company. And they headline in the newspaper The next day said, Can you hear me now?

Zaylore Stout  32:56

Wow, wow.

Jim Potts  32:57

So you don’t know I mean, customers or customers and they will get upset.

Zaylore Stout  33:02

True, true. You know, I can see the domestic violence, you know, recommendation being a tough one for people. Because when folks are in domestic violence type situations, at least with the studies that I’ve read and shown and, and folks that I know that work in the area, you know, it takes a lot for somebody to finally leave, you know, their partner, if they’re in those types of situations. And normally, it takes you know, along a lot of time, effort and energy of people supporting them and encouraging them to leave. So I can see that being a challenge for folks to to not engage in, especially since you don’t you become friends with the people that you work with. And so you know, you truly care about them and want the best for them. And so I can see that one likely being being a challenge for folks. But I can I can bring off a bunch of the situations off of my head, in regard to situations where, you know, the these, the significant other came to work not only looking for that employee, but also looking for their friend that was there and trying to advocate for them to leave that situation. So that’s when they’re all gonna have to wrestle with it, if it’s a situation that we end up coming up with.

Jim Potts  34:02

And let’s be clear, we’ve been talking about generally speaking about males with active shooter situations, but on my radio show, which is every Sunday at three o’clock on LA talk radio, I have actually… This is LA talk radio at that specific time for that three o’clock on Sundays. But I’ve actually talked on there about the fact that domestic violence as an example, or active shooter situations, primarily active shooters and males, but they have been some female active shooters. And with the domestic violence, I understand that there are men who also become victims of domestic violence as well. So it’s really both although the percentages obviously are very low in terms of males. Now we’ll give you some additional statistics, where approximately 2 million workers annually are the victims of some form of workplace violence. And homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. And a lot of people don’t realize that, but those are some serious numbers where men is the second leading cause of death for men. Number one, for men is actually automobile accidents.

Zaylore Stout  35:08

Yeah, so and then 700, roughly 700 people are murdered in the workplace on an annual basis.

Jim Potts  35:14

Yeah. And those numbers are for, say, for last year, a lot of these numbers are probably going to be lower, obviously, because of the situation with the pandemic, a lot of people are working from home, a lot of people were laid off. So these numbers are 2020, when they finally come in, are going to be probably extremely low, because of the circumstance. And I would think that for the most part this year, is probably going to be similar to being to be in low again. But as things really start to open up, I’m sure the numbers will start going back up.

Zaylore Stout  35:45

Yeah, unfortunately. So yeah, I think you were talking about some workplace homicides, you know, what, what’s roughly almost 80% of shootings in the workplace results in homicides.

Jim Potts  35:57

Yeah, because it’s a private sector, you don’t have to necessarily worry about like the government buildings and things of that nature. Those are pretty tight when you really, when it really all comes down to it. But the private sector is where you’re going to see the majority of these homicides. And, sadly, it’s because a lot of employers don’t think this can ever happen to me. Okay, this can never happen here. But that’s not true. It can happen. Right, and they got to be prepared.


Zaylore Stout  36:25

No, I value that you brought up the fact that with what you know that more often than not, it’s men that are engaged in this type of conduct. But there are situations and relationships where the women are, are the ones that are engaging domestic abuse with their, with their, with their male partners, but then also LGBT relationships. Right. And so I know that there are statutes around the country that have been reframed and repackaged. So that it’s that it’s not written in a way that the woman is always the victim. And so they’re making it more gender neutral from that perspective, so that there’s access to to either needs programs or, or, or legal remedies available for folks, regardless of the partner that they have in their in their relationship.

Jim Potts  37:04

Well, let’s just make it clear. That is what happened since the oj simpson situation are now law enforcement has taken a different view on domestic violence, because what happens is now, when law enforcement goes into a home, and if that person even has a scratch on them has some kind of injury, the police officers then become the moving party, so to speak, as opposed to the victim, because oftentimes, a lot of the victims, they don’t want to at some point, they don’t want to pursue it, right? Because they love the person or they don’t want any future issues. So So now, a lot of times those statues have been changed, where law enforcement now become the reporting party, to these people can be prosecuted.

Zaylore Stout  37:45

Yeah, yeah. And it’s and it’s needed. And hopefully, that’s resulted in a drastic change as it relates to the prosecution of individuals engaged in this type of conduct. But those are the statistics and data I’m sure that you tracked down and looked at on your end. So are there tips in regards to preventing workplace violence? I mean, what are some of the things that we can do or employers can do, especially those that are listening to prevent workplace violence?

Jim Potts  38:07

Well, first of all, it’s not about it’s not about getting ready. It’s about being ready. And I mean that sincerely. You could talk about the fact Well, we’ll get ready to do that. No, you got to do it. Okay, it’s about being ready, not about getting ready. So there’s some steps that you can take. So we always in our trainings talk about prevention in five steps as an example. So when you end the hiring process, you need to screen your applicants, you need to have an anti violence policy in place, you should have a crisis management team that consists not only of management people, but also with the employees that everybody shares and the safety of the work environment. And I’m not talking about like a safety committee that you use for safety, like with the with OSHA, I’m talking about a different one, a crisis team. And then most importantly, you need to train frontline supervisors, and greeters, as an example, and our active shooter training, we train all of the employees, managers as well and supervisors. Why? Because it is a joint effort for everybody to be on the lookout for potential issues.

Zaylore Stout  39:09

And there’s some warning signs, I think that you normally give out like what eight warning signs you normally give to employers to be on the lookout for in regards to somebody who may end up engaging in violent behavior at work.

Jim Potts  39:20

Oh, yeah, and these are pretty standard. It’s out there with law enforcement. We’re always on the lookout for employees who have fascinations with weapons. I’m not talking about your casual hunter, things of that nature. I’m talking about the guy that’s talking about you know, all Hey, have you heard you know about the latest AR this out and hey, the gun shows coming in town. And they’re always talking about building things off the internet or getting things off the internet. They’ve got a true fascination with weapons. The person is always talking like that. That’s one of the people you need to be aware of. Substance abuse is another issue that people, law enforcement will associate with this kind of violent behavior. People that are depressed as an example, in law enforcement, we will tell you that, especially around the holidays when people don’t have families and things that they end up getting depressed. So the majority of the suicides that we see always around, like the Christmas holidays as an example, the other thing is, is that you got to watch out for employees who have some kind of violent history. You know, they’ve done something at work. And they get a pass, you know, because of the fact that they’re the number one salesperson as an example. And they engage in this behavior, and the employer doesn’t let them go, because they’re the number one salesperson as an example, you got to keep in mind with this kind of what these kind of policies, you got to be fair, firm and consistent.

Zaylore Stout  40:43

Yeah, I know, most employers have these zero tolerance policies as it relates to discrimination or harassment. And again, most of them do have a zero tolerance policy as a relates to violence in the workplace. But as you indicated, and I know that we both on our share of workplace investigations in our in our respective businesses where, you know, the employer doesn’t want to hold a particular individual accountable, because they’re making them a bunch of money. And that’s where there ends up becoming issues, especially when you’re dealing with violence in the workplace as well. So it does need to be that zero tolerance policy, otherwise, there’s exposure, like negligent retention and negligent hiring and all these other, you know, legal avenues that employees would be able to take above and beyond the workers compensation type situation, where, you know, there’s there’s there’s a much more significant, you know, dollar figure available as it relates to legal exposure, right?

Jim Potts  41:31

No, that is correct. You know, the law has required employers since 1994, to have a workplace violence safety program in place. It’s called the Workplace Violence Safety Act of 1994. And the employees are required to take reasonable steps to address, you know, credible threats of workplace violence. So by law, they need to have a workplace security plan in place, and we help them to write those as well.

Zaylore Stout  41:57

What has it been your experience that most employers have these, these these plans in place?

Jim Potts  42:01

Unfortunately, most employers we’ve dealt with, and we’ve trained over 30,000 employees, hundreds of businesses, and 99.9% of them don’t even know about that requirement to have that they just focus on a regular safety plan that has to do with OSHA, as well as workers comp. So there has to be they need to have a business game plan in effect. So a site assessment, you know, which is kind of what we do, but, you know, to know, where are the safe rooms in your facility, you got to have a workplace security plan, managers and employees have to be trained. And it’s got to be written procedures by department for people to follow, because every department could be set up differently.

Zaylore Stout  42:43

Mm hmm. Now, I know that that that individual employees can get restraining orders against individuals, if they feel that there’s some some, you know, physical threat against them as individuals has a law change as it relates to whether businesses are allowed to get restraining orders against individuals as well.

Jim Potts  42:59

It has changed. California is one example. California is now permitting employers to get restraining orders against the person that’s committing the domestic violence, because because of the fact that it’s spilling over into the work environment, and the employers want to be able to protect the not only the victim, but the other people that are at work. They’re permitting employers now, to be able to do that. What people don’t realize is the financial impact of all of this violence creates not only a morale issue, but financially impacts businesses as well. The National Institute for Occupational Health has projected that it costs $120 billion a year with this issue about violence in the workplace. The reason for that is because of business closures. You know, when after an event happens there is missed workdays, production is down, workers compensation and legal fees. So there’s a lot of money associated with these issues as well.

Zaylore Stout  43:56

That’s a huge figure $120 billion per year. And then I think that comes down to that in that same reporting. They talk about that as roughly $850,000 per homicide cost per incident, right?

Jim Potts  44:09

Oh, yeah.

Zaylore Stout  44:12

There’s big dollar figures associated with it. So so you know, as as we’re wrapping it up, I want to make sure that that we have an opportunity to go over some of the final reminders that you have. I know that people love checklists, I know that I love checklists. So if you haven’t had your pen out yet, make sure you get your pen out so you can get this checklist here that Jim is about to give you as well in regards to what to do if violence erupts in the workplace.

Jim Potts  44:34

Yeah, you got to remove your staff and customers from the harm that’s number one you got to contact law enforcement is number two, you should already have arrange for emergency medical care, know where your emergency medical facilities are, and have that on speed dial basically so to make those calls. After it’s all over schedule debriefings. Okay, do the debriefings to find out exactly what happens. Employees psychologically may be impacted. So you’re going to have to refer them to your EAP, which is the employee assistance program through your health care provider, and always renew your commitment to security, and have a spokesperson for the media so that the media is getting the accurate information as opposed to 20 different people trying to tell the media exactly what happened.

Zaylore Stout  45:18

And we know the media will be there to try to get as much information as they can. And I know that I’ve, you know, assisted the development of many handbooks to my business, and I know you have as well, and, and a lot of times, you know, we we incorporate and include policies as it relates to who is allowed to speak to the media and the likes. So that’s always important to make sure that that’s a policy that’s there, and that employees are aware of that policy, as well as most employees aren’t reading the handbook from cover to cover, unfortunately. So it’s a it’s a, it’s incumbent upon the employer to make sure that they’re having that discussion in that dialogue with their employees. So Jim, yes, let’s make sure that we recap in regards to how folks can get in contact with you. I know you have the radio show, you have the book, you have your Twitter, there’s and then there’s the active shooter prevention training that you do. So let’s let’s make sure that we we highlight that as well. But as we wrap it up,

Jim Potts  46:07

Yeah, they can find me on LA talk radio, all right, which is streaming on the internet, latalkradio.com. Listen up with Jim Potts, every Sunday at 3pm Pacific Standard Time. They can also become part of my Twitter followers @JimPottsauthor as well. And they can also reach me at Potts and Associates in Pasadena, California, they can contact me that way as well, if anybody’s interested.

Zaylore Stout  46:37

And based on your employment law work, you have a blog that you’ve been doing for years and years and years with tons of the archived information there for people to be able to read up as well. And so I encourage folks to check that out, grab a copy of the book, I know the book is amazing, because I have my own copies signed copy from you. And there’s even a pocket guide that you can actually put in your purse or your wallet. So you have this information readily at hand for you. If there’s an active shooter situation that happens either in your workplace, or somewhere where you are out in public. Unfortunately, this has been growing situations that have been part of our American lives, hopefully, we’ll be able to find a way to be able to dial it back and curve these types of things back but it’s important and incumbent upon all of us to make sure that we stay vigilant and aware and be safe in regards to what’s going on. So Jim, I wanted to make sure that I provided you with the last word as we as we round it out here with The Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast.

Jim Potts  47:31

Well, what we want you to understand is that we want you to be aware, we want you to be vigilant and we want you to be safe, check out my book on Amazon Domestic Terrorism Safety Tips, by Jim Potts, and thank you very much for having me, Zaylore.

Zaylore Stout  47:43

Thank you, and thanks to Forum on Workplace Inclusion.

Ben Rue  47:47

Thank you so much, Zaylore and Jim for that wonderful podcast. Thank you to our listeners for joining and a special thank you to our sponsor Best Buy. You can learn more by emailing sailor or Jim at zaylore@stoutlaw.com and Jim Potts at Pots and associates.com. New episodes of the Forum podcasts are available at Forum  Workplace inclusion.org. You can also find podcasts on Apple podcasts, Spotify, anchor and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion  48:17

Thank you again for listening to the Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast to get updates and the latest episodes. Also, tell us what you think by reviewing our podcast we’d love to hear your feedback. For more information visit us at Forum Workplace inclusion.org or search workplace forum on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Thank you very much and have a great day.

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion  48:40

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