Workplace violence: Workers killed and wounded on the job


By: Jim Kouri, CPP

A woman suspended from Kraft Foods’s Philadelphia plant returned within moments after being escorted from the building and opened fire with a handgun, mortally wounding two women and injuring a third worker.

Local police reported that the incident occurred last Thursday shortly after 8:30 PM.

The suspect, Yvonne Hiller, was escorted out of the plant, but she returned shortly afterward and drove through a security gate before entering the plant armed with a .357 Magnum handgun, police said. She then proceeded to the third floor where she had worked.

The 43-year-old worker had been a Kraft employee for 15 years. She allegedly shot two women on that floor and a man she encountered as she went down the stairs to the second floor where she barricaded herself into an office.

A police SWAT unit managed to arrest Hiller after the standoff. Many workers in other parts of the building fled and hid in locked rooms when they heard the gunshots.

According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in six crimes occurs in
the workplace and the number is increasing. An estimated 7 percent of all rapes, 8 percent of all
robberies, and 16 percent of all assaults take place on work sites.
Homicides account for 12 percent of all workplace deaths, and statistically violence is the number two cause of death on the job in the nation. Of course, these deaths include employees of law-enforcement and security agencies.

For instance, one report indicates that during the DOJ study period over 520 police officers were
killed on-the-job (“in the line of duty”), with another 253 security personnel killed while
performing protective services. These constitute high-risk occupations, according to the National
Security Institute.

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

“The workplace is the scene of almost one million violent crimes each year,” claims former
BJS director Lawrence Greenfield. “About 10 percent – or 100,000 – of these workplace crimes involve offenders armed with handguns.”

Of the approximately 3.2 million crimes and thefts in the workplace, about 500,000 victims lose
an estimated 1.8 million workdays each year and $55 million in lost wages, not including days
covered by sick or vacation leave. Among women who experience crime at work, 40 percent are
attacked by a stranger, 35 percent by a casual acquaintance, 19 percent by a well-known
acquaintance, and one percent by a relative. About 5 percent of workplace attacks on women are
perpetrated by a husband, boyfriend, or former boyfriend.

The average number of victimizations totaled over 970,000 (not including
homicides): there were 13,068 rapes, 79,200 robberies (17,900 involving injuries), 264,200
aggravated assaults (with over 48,000 serious injuries), and 615,200 simple assaults (89,500
involving injuries.

VIOLENCE IN THE GOVERNMENT

According to Justice Department data, federal, state and local government workers constitute 18
percent of the total US workforce. This 18 percent of our national workforce account for 30
percent of all workplace crime victims. There’s an obvious disparity in these numbers. Several
factors may be responsible for this over-representation, including a potentially high-risk
victimization for particular government occupations such as public safety worker.

In addition to violent incidents, there was an annual average of over 2 million thefts in the
workplace, non-inclusive of company-owned property thefts. Also, there were an astounding
200,000 motor vehicle thefts reported by employees. Unfortunately, more than half of all
workplace crimes go unreported to police.

Among those not reporting their victimizations, 40 percent said the matter seemed too minor or
too personal, while 27 percent said they reported the incident to a company official such as a
security officer.

MURDER ON THE JOB

One study from the National Security Institute indicates that workplace homicides totaled 7,600
in one 10-year period, although the NSI concedes that this figure may be overly conservative
because of data gathering limitations. The actual number of occupational homicides may be
greater than reported because of the methods used to collect information – mostly death
certificates – tend to underestimate the total number of deaths, according to the National Institute
for Occupational Safety & Health.

Of the 7,600 homicide victims, 80 percent were male. The homicide rate for male workers is three-times that for women. Nonetheless, homicide was the leading cause of death from occupational injury among women, causing 41 percent of all deaths among women as compared to just 10 percent among men.

Nearly half of the workplace homicides occurred among workers aged 25-44, but workers aged
65 or older had the highest rate of occupational homicide. Additionally, 75 percent of the victims
were white, 19 percent were African-American, and 6 percent were Latino or other races.
However, the rate for workplace homicide among black workers and other races was more than
twice the rate for whites.

As far as weapons of choice, firearms figured in 75 percent of workplace homicides. Knives
and other types of cutting and piercing instruments accounted for only 14 percent of these deaths.
Information contained on death certificates doesn’t allow identification of the circumstances of
homicides in the workplace, but the types of high-risk workplaces and occupations suggest that
robbery is the predominant motive.

Some homicides are caused by disgruntled workers and clients, or by domestic violence which may spill into the workplace. An increasing number of these incidents involve one employee killing another over a disagreement. Violent employees have killed co-workers, supervisors and personnel staff in several high-profile cases such as the shooting of several personnel office workers by a former employee at New York City’s Beth Israel Medical Center.

POLICE SUGGESTIONS

Police and security experts recommend the following steps in reducing vulnerability:
1. Make high-risk areas more visible to more people.
2. Install good external lighting.
3. Use drop-safes to minimize cash on hand.
4. Carry small amounts of cash.
5. Post signs stating that there is limited cash on hand.
6. Install silent alarms.
7. Install overt and covert surveillance cameras.
8. If possible, increase the number of staff on duty.
9. Provide training in conflict resolution.
10. Avoid resistance during a robbery.
11. Provide bulletproof barriers or enclosures.
12. Have police check on workers routinely.
13. Close establishments during high-risk hours.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

To subscribe to Kouri’s newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write “Subscription” on the subject line.

About The Author Jim Kouri, CPP:
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.
Website:http://jimkouri.us

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