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Workplace Violence: Can Employers Do More To Prevent It?

UPS workers gather outside a UPS package delivery warehouse where a shooting took place in San Francisco, June 14, 2017.
Eric Risberg / Associated Press
UPS workers gather outside a UPS package delivery warehouse where a shooting took place in San Francisco, June 14, 2017.
Workplace Violence: Can Employers Do More To Prevent It?
A San Diego expert on threat assessment believes employers can do more to prevent workplace violence.

When it comes to preventing workplace violence, like this week's deadly shooting rampage at a UPS facility in San Francisco, employers need to pay attention to red flags.

That is the opinion of Wendy Patrick. She is a career prosecutor who handles threat cases, a lecturer in the College Of Business Administration at San Diego State University, and the author of the book, Red Flags.

“There is almost always a trail of clues that workplace violence offenders leave, and whether those are online, or in person, they’re always there," Patrick explained. "The frustration that we have in this society after the fact is, 'Why didn’t anybody connect the dots before the violence occurred?'”

San Francisco police are searching for a motive in the UPS killings. Patrick said there are certain signs that some job candidates reveal during the interview process.

“Maybe it’s a flippant saying, or terminology, or even the expression; the optics don’t match the topic.”

But Patrick points out, even people prone to violence can conceal that trait for a while. She said employers need to pay attention to risk factors once a person is hired.

“Such as, a belief that one doesn’t have to follow the rules, a disrespect for authority, an inability to bond with employees," she said.

Patrick also recommends that employers check whether a person has posted extremist or violent statements online.