Roanoke coalition ready to help prevent workplace violence

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Acts of workplace violence have had tragic consequences in offices across the country, including in the Roanoke Valley. You may remember the Freightcar America shooting in 2016, which left two dead, and several others injured.

Roanoke County Police and other agencies in Roanoke want to do more and are ready to do more to help other businesses large and small implement best practices in preventing workplace violence. That includes physical security and working with employees to understand who might and who might not pose a legitimate threat.

Tragedy struck Roanoke in October of 2016 at Freightcar America, where a former employee killed one person, and injured several others.
And just a few months ago there was a murder suicide in Craig County.
Where a domestic violence situation crept into the workplace and Ashley Baynes was killed in front of co-workers.

This is what the Blue Ridge Partnership for Workplace Violence Prevention comes into play.

"We want to offer businesses the opportunity who may not have the manpower, the knowledge to create basically threat assessment teams iwthin their own businesses," said Sergeant Tony Ayers with the Roanoke County Police Department.

Roanoke County police and other agencies are working with a long list of partner agencies. They've spent the last few years building the partnership to help other businesses prevent violence.

That includes physical security and tools to create their own assessments to figure out if an employee actually poses a threat.

"On top of police we also have a full security workforce as well," said Sergeant Mark Gilbert with Carilion's Police Department. "So anything Roanoke City can do, we can do inside Carilion Hospital."

Roanoke Memorial Hospital's safety team is one lending their own expertise.

"Well i think the biggest thing with some of the smaller businesses is they don't have HR departments to help with employee problems and employee violence and threats," Gilbert said. "And what we can do is provide assistance with all the different disciplines in the area to give them some good advice on how to handle situations like that."