CRITICAL INCIDENT MANAGEMENT IN MERCER COUNTY GOVERNMENT

Managing critical workplace incidents, primarily those dealing with actual or potential violence, is a top organization priority. These are among the most sensitive issues faced by supervisors. These issues also generally involve delicate balances between rights, responsibilities and compelling organizational needs such as employee and public safety and the continued performance of required duties. For these reasons, the County Administration is committed to providing a coordinated and rapid-response to such incidents.

 GENERAL POLICY

Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in any of Mercer County's work locations. It is the goal of the County to rid worksites of violent behavior or the threat of such behavior.

It is the shared obligation of all employees, law enforcement agencies, and employee organizations to individually and jointly act to prevent or defuse actual or implied violent behavior at work.

Violence, or the threat of violence, by or against any employee of Mercer County or other person is unacceptable and contrary to County policy, and will subject the perpetrator to serious disciplinary action and possible criminal charges. The County will work with law enforcement agencies to aid in the prosecution of anyone outside of the organization who commits violent acts against employees.

Possession, use, or threat of use, of a deadly weapon, including all firearms, is not permitted at work, or on County property, including in a County vehicle, unless such possession or use of a weapon is a necessary and approved requirement of the job.

No employee acting in good faith, who reports real or implied violent behavior will be subject to retaliation or harassment based upon their report.

CRITICAL INCIDENT COORDINATION

When a supervisor or employee observes an act of violence at work the steps to take are simple, even though the underlying issues may not be.

1.   IN IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY SITUATIONS... CALL 911 FOR LOCAL POLICE (COURTHOUSE EMPLOYEES SHOULD CONTACT THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE X6111)

As with any other emergency involving fire, violence, or medical incidents, the first thought and action is to call 911 or x6lll and report as many details as soon as possible so that the appropriate emergency response units can be' dispatched.

2.  SECOND STEP     Immediately contact the Chief of Security Operations (989-6800). Employees at the Mercer County Correction Center should contact the Internal Affairs (x254) or 434-3281.

3.   THIRD STEP     After the incident has calmed contact...

1.              Department/Division/Office Director involved

2.              Chief, Division of Employee Relations (x6676)

3.       Insurance/Risk Manager (x6655)

The Chief of Security Operations and the Superintendent of Corrections are the Workplace Critical Incident Coordinators and in coordination with the Chief, Division of Employee Relations will ensure that resources as needed are coordinated in their support and response.

Other steps following a critical incident at work will flow from this initial contact including any required disciplinary action and help from the Employee   Assistance Service for employees involved or witnessing a serious incident.

It is the responsibility of all employees to assure that their behavior is appropriate in the workplace given the accountability of an employee in the public sector. Therefore, it is critical that all employees, not just supervisors, are aware of the guidelines set forth in the following section.

GUIDELINES FOR SUPERVISORS

The guidelines below apply to alI County employees and are intended to aid supervisors in dealing with violent or potentially violent situations at work once an immediate emergency situation has been controlled. Altercations between persons at work are rare and usually minor, allowing time for supervisor intervention.

An "altercation" as used in these guidelines includes actual workplace violence or threatened violence including verbal or physical confrontation or assault, or attempts at such assault.

In circumstances deemed by the supervisor to be an emergency, call 911 for local police and/or x6lll for the Sheriff's Office for Courthouse employees and make the other contacts previously. It is understood that the actions of a supervisor or other employees will be dependent on the seriousness of the situation and the nature of an altercation. However, consistent with personal safety, supervisors have a responsibility to make a goad faith effort to defuse violent or potentially violent situations as quickly as possible in order to prevent their escalation and creating a threat to others. In general...

1.     Separate employees involved. Do not allow a verbal altercation to escalate into something more serious. If the employees cannot be separated follow the steps previously described.

2.     Immediately contact the Chief of Security Operations (989-6800).  Employees at the Mercer County Correction Center should contact the Internal Affairs Office (x254) or 434-3281.

3.     Contact the appropriate Department Head/Division Chief/Office Director and the Chief of the Division of Employee Relations (x6676) and the Insurance/Risk Manager (x6655).

4.     Once the situation is controlled, the Chief of Security Operations or internal affairs staff at the Correction Center will interview all persons involved, including any witnesses in order to obtain an accurate account of the incident. Document the statements of witnesses and others interviewed in written form. Those involved in an altercation  these who are possible subjects of future disciplinary action based on the incident have the right , to be represented during the interview. If such representation is denied or questioning continues after representation has been requested, subsequent disciplinary action could be overturned or modified an appeal. It may be necessary to postpone an interview in such cases for a representative to be available. By contacting Employee Relations, advice and assistance in this process will be provided.

Most workplace altercations, including minor ones involving only verbal exchanges, justify appropriate disciplinary action through the use of the County's progressive discipline guidelines. At any time during the review of an altercation, the Chief, Division of Employee Relations will be available for assistance upon request.

 

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