Panic. Confusion. Misinformation. How are these countered? Communication.
In any emergency situation, including workplace violence, there are many people and departments involved. Areas of responsibility can be a particular challenge—especially when panic sets in and the clock is ticking.
San Diego County has created a special system to meet the challenge of cross-departmental communication, including the creation of a new law enforcement group called TAG. TAG (Threat Assessment Group) consists of county law enforcement individuals who work directly with the county’s Risk Assessment Team. Each person has their own dedicated role, each knowing how they can mitigate a threat, or resolve a crisis, as well as who else to contact.
Team Effort and Communication
This special partnership between the County’s Human Resources department and the Sheriffs’ department was created to increase efficiencies at sensitive times, allowing quicker responses, especially in life and death scenarios.
Based on collaboration, the TAG program has increased communication across a large County, and promoted trust amongst various departments. Keeping a level head in these scenarios, and remembering that time is of the essence, increases the levels of communication and ensures that all parties know the situation as well as their specific responsibilities.
The following process was developed due to the sensitive nature of this topic and knowing that time is of the essence:
- The threat is reported to Risk Management (RM) and they review it;
- RM contacts the applicable Department to get additional details of the threat;
- RM contacts the sergeant of the Sheriff's TAG unit to review the details of the case and get input;
- Depending on the severity of the threat, the sergeant may assign a detective to the case who will participate in the strategy meetings with the Risk Assessment Team;
- The detective will complete any and all necessary law enforcement searches up to and including contacting the subject(s) of the threat assessment if deemed necessary;
- A safety plan will be developed based on the facts of the case;
- The sergeant and/or the detective will be in constant communication with RM;
- Once the case is resolved by the sergeant and RM, a Deputy Director will close the case;
- RM will keep in communication with the Department to ensure all parties are safe;
- The Department is encouraged to keep heightened awareness to ensure the threat is not repeated, and if it is, they are to follow the safety plan and contact RM immediately;
- RM documents the case from inception to conclusion.
Having a good working relationship with law enforcement has been the cornerstone to the TAG program’s success. Building that trust between the county and law enforcement, and fostering a relationship in the end will increase safety and benefit the people.
“It is about the team, not just one person,” said Jan Mazone, San Diego County’s HR Deputy Director. “I’m very proud of the work” the group has done, she added.
San Diego County received the 2017 EAGLE Award for Excellence in Implementation of New Risk Management Programs.