Writing & implementing a Violence Prevention & Recovery Plan (VPRP)
(NOTE: This is a reprint of an article from June of 2020.)
One item that all organizations have to plan for, and have, unfortunately, is for any kind of violence that may envelop the facility or office. It is sad to think about someone entering your organization and attempting to either assault or kill people inside…but unfortunately, it occurs on nearly a daily basis…somewhere.
As Benjamin Franklyn stated “No one plans to fail, rather they fail to plan” and unfortunately, more than 70% of ALL organizations fail to plan for a violent incident. This includes businesses, schools, and every type of organization that has employees and people coming in & out.
You could face innumerable issues if a violent incident, or even a supposed ‘temper tantrum’, including;
- uncomfortable questions from the media and survivors.
- calamitous lawsuits due to inadequate security and not attempting to prevent the incident.
- public relations nightmares and trying to repair your reputation and get people to come back.
- Dead or severely wounded students/employees…the thing that will bring about most of the above
- An innumerable number of them, and maybe visitors, are psychologically traumatized…which will lead to more lost financial resources.
Every organization, no matter its mission, needs a Violence Prevention & Recovery Plan (VPRP). It needs to be a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach in order to be effective, which means resources and planning to design, write, and implement. While instances of fatal violence are rare, the occurrences of assaults are much more prevalent (estimated at 15 million a year in a study by the University of South Florida in 2005) it still needs to be planned for.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of books and guidelines that will show you how to write a comprehensive plan to survive a violent crisis. Most are verbose, offer little useful information, and quite frankly filled with gobbledygook, usually to satisfy lawyers. I will attempt to be as concise & succinct as possible in guiding you through these mazes of information.
There are as many good ideas and processes for writing and implementing a VPRP as there are bad ones. Unfortunately, many of them have conflicting points of view on writing and implementing it, which is not necessarily a bad thing…because it forces you to find the best solution for your organization.
No organization is the same as another, each organization has its own nuances and culture that need to be taken into account. No plan is perfect…therefore, a cookie-cutter mentality and approach don’t work. Every article, book, & guideline you read and try to implement needs to be adapted for your circumstances & culture, tweaking as often as necessary.
The hardest and most complicated aspects of the development process are these:
- Who will be involved & from what levels of the company? It should involve everyone from the front line to upper management/administration
- How many types of violence will you attempt to cover? Remember SV/WPV comes from an innumerable amount of people. From customers, students & co-workers (including ex), patients, inmates, and vendors.
- What resources will be needed to complete the plan? Time, financial, meeting space, etc.
- Who will be responsible for ensuring the process stays on track and is completed?
- What is the timeline for completion, from development, writing, & implementation? You should allow for a minimum of 3 to 12 months
Each form of violence that your organization may encounter needs to have a section in the VPRP ranging from;
- Violence from students & co-workers. This is where knowing the warning signs come into play.
- Customers and whether it is a customer on customer or against an employee. Even incidents of child abuse within the facility should be considered.
- Vendors who may go postal against an employee or student. It may be rare but it does happen.
- The most common type of crime against a business is the related crime of robbery, arson, or theft. If you are in a retail business this is your biggest threat.
- Domestic violence can raise its ugly head as well.
- Patients and inmates cause the most WPV so…depending on your line of business…
These are only a few of the multitude of potentially violent incidents that could strike your organization and place it on a precipitous edge. The ideal thing to do is make your list using the above as a guideline. Each of these will have certain things in common, but it is just as important to have a separate section for each kind of event.
One of the main concerns that you have to think about is the simplicity of the plan. While it may be of great interest to your legal department to have all the detail in the world it really isn’t necessary. It needs to be simple and easily read and understood, keeping it concise, succinct, and read at a 6th-grade level.
This is especially true for the parts that will receive general distribution throughout the organization. Your staff, especially in an educational institution of any sort, who have been designated for certain responsibilities only need to have the relevant sections of the plan. While they need to know how important their part is overall and how integral it is, they don’t need to be burdened by the entire thing.
Departmental heads and administration/executives need to have a full and complete copy. They need to understand how to implement it, no matter the cost of time and energy to them. The expenditure in those areas will pay dividends later if a violent incident does occur.
You need to develop at least three groups of people within your plan. Each set will be responsible for different items in getting back to operating efficiency. Watch for the 2nd part of this series next week.