Jun 27 2011

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Summit County seeks to stay aware of threatening individuals

By Janice Kurbjun, Summit Daily News

Summit County government now has the option of creating an internal list of violent or potentially violent individuals to help its employees be aware of potential conflict before it arises.

Because similar incidents have occurred at different departments, officials felt they could help diffuse problems by sharing information across the government’s branches.

The action is part of an update to the county’s violence in workplace guidelines, which states: “Summit County Government will not tolerate violent behavior or a threat of violent behavior in any workplace, especially when such behavior is directed toward a Summit County employee, official or other person.”

The guidelines call for a Threat and Violence Assessment Team, comprised of the human resources director, assistant county manager, sheriff or his designee and multiple department officials as assigned by the county manager. The team reviews and responds to reported incidents and threats, distributes potential threat notifications to staff as necessary, and will document, log and track incidents in the resource list.

No threat notices have been issued, nor are there currently any names on the list for the team to review, assistant county manager Scott Vargo said. Breckenridge and other areas in Colorado have a similar team system in place, he said.

The list could include guests, employees or the general local population, Vargo said. Though, it wouldn’t be public, nor would those placed on the list know they’re on it unless they’ve received formal notification that they’ve been banned from county facilities.

Acknowledging that some of the individuals on the list have mental impairments, Vargo said, “We want to be as sensitive as we can be … while ensuring our staff is aware and protected.”

County Commissioner Thomas Davidson suggested notifying individuals when they’ve been placed on the list so they know “it’s not OK to be that passionate.” However, county manager Gary Martinez said actions will be dealt with as appropriate, and that the list is just for inside awareness.

Offenders can be removed from the list if their issues with county government branches are resolved.

“It’s good for us to let our staff know that this person is out there,” Vargo said.

The county is also implementing a computer-based alert system that allows employees who feel threatened to press a green button on their desktop to alert a customizable list of colleagues they need assistance.

“It’s a low-tech way of informing folks that an incident is occurring,” Vargo said.

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