Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Public Employee Safety

Unless you've been living under a rock the last few weeks, you must be aware of the attacks on public employees and officials in the news.  No, I am not referring to stories on their pay and benefits, but rather the physical attacks on their safety.  First, the shootings in Arizona and now a brazen gunman in the City of Detroit.

Granted, these attacks are not new.  One can name many public officials shot down by crazed assassins.  And, when I worked at the old Detroit General Hospital, a disgruntled employee came into the building with a shotgun and killed an administrator.  The end result of that incident was the issuance of employee IDs and the stationing of armed guards at the entrances.

When we were designing the new TownHall in West Bloomfield, my clerical staff asked that we not have bullet-proof glass installed at the counter.  I agreed.  The only change I asked for was that my vault be built of concrete blocks and not the dry-wall that was in the plans.  (Go figure.  Dry-wall and a steel door.  You have to be a pretty stupid crook to fall for that ruse.)

Several years later, after threats were made to officials, a security system was implemented.  IDs were issued to allow access to employee areas.  No ID, no access.  My deputy pointed out that if anyone really wanted to get to me, all they had to do was walk up to my corner office, which was all windows, and shoot.  Well, thanks for that.  Another employee pointed out that without the bullet-proof glass in place, one could hop over the counter.  Well, that's what the panic buttons were for.

The underlying fact remains that no matter how safe we try to be, if the crazies want to get us they will.  It doesn't matter if we are at work, at home, or out on the streets.  There is no guaranteed safety.  Even if the anti-gun lobby banned all personal guns, the bad guys will find a way to devise their own weapons. 

It is a sad but true fact that we can never be completely safe, no matter what precautions we take.  Let's just remember that we have public employees out there who live with that risk every day of their lives. 

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