Preventing workplace violence focus of meeting held in Calais

Posted March 09, 2009, at 12:39 a.m.

CALAIS, Maine — At one time, it seems, all a merchant had to focus on was keeping the shelves stocked and making money.

But no more. Chief David Randall of the Calais Police Department explained at a meeting last week that business owners also needs a plan in place to handle workplace violence — the former employee or irate customer who shows up at their store with a loaded gun.

About 20 people attended the meeting Wednesday, March 4, between the Calais Police Department and local merchants, which focused on being prepared for workplace violence and other topics.

The idea for the meetings began last year when the newly appointed police chief announced that he planned to re-establish a program he began several years ago as a patrol officer — to address crimes that occur in the business community.

The first meeting was held in January and included a discussion about shoplifting, employee theft and bad checks.

Last week’s meeting focused on violence in the workplace, among other topics.

Randall said after the meeting that people were interested.

“I explained to them that I was setting up shooter guidelines and I asked them if they had policies in place for a lockdown,” he said. “Many have policies for evacuation, but not many have a policy for a lockdown [shutting down the store in the event of an emergency].”

Randall said he had requested diagrams of the inside of some of the city’s largest businesses, “so that if we ever had to go into a situation like that we would have some kind of diagram of the inside.”

“We also are going to start going on field trips to some of these businesses to get a firsthand look at them,” he said.

The chief said the discussion about workplace violence was a real “eye-opener” for those who attended the meeting. For years while shootings and standoffs took place in larger cities, people thought it couldn’t happen here. That is not the case, Randall said.

Some of the business owners, Randall said, requested help in putting a workplace-shooting plan in place. The police chief agreed to help.

“If we can help one business, it is worth it,” the chief said of the meeting. “I want everybody to network and know each other and be able to pass on information.”

More such meetings are scheduled in the future and are open to everyone, including business owners outside Calais. The next meeting is scheduled for May 5 at Washington County Community College.

Anyone who would like to attend the workshop or suggest future topics should call Randall at 454-2753.

bdncalais@myfairpoint.net

454-8228

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