The harsh, sad reality of today is that we are living in what seems to be the most dangerous time in modern American history. Shocked as we are by every horrific new incident of mass violence that involves the senseless murder of innocents, we almost know to expect that there are more such tragedies to come.
In Florida alone, the heartbreaking assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High this past Valentine’s Day resulted in the deaths of 17 students, faculty and staff — many more injuries — and the dark day still challenges our state and local leaders to vault school safety to the top of the public policy agenda. In late August, a lone gunman turned a video game tournament at the Jacksonville Landing into a killing field: murdering two people and injuring 10 more, before taking his own life. The 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured 53 more still haunts us today.
And, most recently, the peaceful Sabbath service on October 27 at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue, at which an anti-Semitic zealot unleashed a gun-powered bloodbath that killed 11 worshippers and wounded many more, has only demonstrated, again, the fragility of our lives in this terribly violent time.
Whether it’s hate, madness, or some perverse political agenda that compels some individuals to commit these atrocities, we are all awakened to the fact that any school, place of worship, workplace, or public/private venue may be vulnerable to such attacks. This truth is not aimed at fostering hysteria — but rather to unite us in a calm, overarching shared priority to protect ourselves and those around us.
For all workplaces — private, public and non-profit sectors — there should be a real, renewed responsibility to move beyond complacency about existing security policies, protocols, and practices being good enough to safeguard our work families. If you haven’t done it lately, it’s time to reassess what’s in place at your workplace to protect our people from harm.
Few of us have the expertise to know how to do that on our own. But, thankfully, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Department offer a simple, smart, strategic safety class that they’ll bring to your workplace. The ‘active shooter’ training that we received for our staff was provided as a public service by our dedicated local law enforcement agencies. We learned what to do — and, what not to do — in such a dangerous and threatening situation.
We also benefited from the professional review of our doors, windows, security system and existing plans. The result: we’re investing additional resources in new exterior lighting around our building; reinforced new locks on our entranceways; closed-circuit video cameras, inside and outside our workplace; warning signs to potential intruders; an enhanced electronic security system. I’m proud to say that we’ve turned to Tallahassee Chamber member businesses for those services — Red Wire and Weston Trawick — because they live here, too, they care, and they know how important this is to our company.
Please take this opportunity to make workplace safety and security our shared highest daily priority. In the end, it’s not about what it may cost to retrofit your workplace; it is about what it is likely to save: lives.