I am somewhat afraid

I work at a state government office. Among my duties is being the backup for the two staff normally assigned to the building entrance reception desk. Which puts me at the desk maybe once or twice a week for varying periods of time.

Over the past month a former employee (who was terminated) has been coming to the building repeatedly, almost every day and sometimes twice a day for a while. He asks to talk to specific people, none of whom want to see him. I’ve personally encountered him twice. The best description I can give for him is that he is very on-edge and struggling to remain civil and polite, and in my personal experiences with him, he was successful in this. According to my two co-workers, though, more recently his agitation and anger has been increasing. He has been informed in writing that he is not to enter the building unless he makes an appointment in advance with someone for a specific reason.

Yesterday I learned that the previous night, he had an off-site altercation with two department employees that escalated into violence and his arrest for various charges including assaulting one of the police officers who was arresting him. I don’t know how the thing started or where it was – whether he stumbled across them in a bar or came looking for them and deliberately started a confrontation.

Yesterday he was arraigned and released, and the management and Capital Police are concerned enough that for at least the next few days, there will be an officer stationed in the building in case he shows up here again.

The thing that has me more rattled is that the executives have decided to station the officer in the office where the guy used to work, far away from the building entrance. Every one of us who works at that desk knows the guy by sight, and we have instructions to hit a panic button that calls the police if we so much as see him at the entrance, and if he comes in we are to inform him that he may not enter and the police have been called.

In other words, if there is a confrontation, it will be at the entrance, and they’ve stationed the cop somewhere else for reasons that don’t make sense to me. But I feel something like we’re being left out for the wolves. I know the odds are low that there will be a violent incident, and even lower that I would be a part of it – I’m there for maybe a couple of hours a week. But still …

I would definitely feel uncomfortable sitting at that desk.

I assume state law forbids you from having a CCW on state property? If so, I have no good advice. :frowning:

No, it does not. State law is so relaxed that if I get a CCW permit and bring it to work, I don’t even need to tell my supervisor I’m carrying. Also, the building is not posted for firearms, so any citizen with a permit can walk in with a gun. Of course, it we don’t see it, we won’t know whether they have a gun OR a permit.

Anyway, I do not own a gun or have a CCW. If I felt the need to be armed at work, I would find another job – and I’m thinking about it.

I think I’d feel some illness coming on. Sorry boss, it might be the flu.

This is the Wisconsin Capitol building, right? Aren’t there like a dozen entrances???

In any event, have you presented your very rational concerns to your superiors, and/or to whomever made the decision to station the officer far from where you were instructed to confront this guy?

Can you go to the state Occupational Health & Safety office with concerns that you’re in an unsafe work environment?

Get yourself a TASER, ASAP.

Would a restraining order keeping him away from the building help?

Obviously the Capital Police can’t take the chance of fewer officers monitoring the Solidarity Singers or all hell might break loose. I’d get some pepper spray. And I’m with Elvis on why no restraining order?

No, it’s not the Capitol building, it’s another nearby state office building.

I don’t blame you for being concerned. I have spent many days on edge because of some nut I had to fire. In two cases the occassional threatening phone calls were still comming in almost 20 years later.

Maybe, but it’s not something I can do. The legal department worked for 2-3 weeks just drafting a letter to tell him to keep away. Why they didn’t make it enforceable as some kind of judicial order is a question I hadn’t thought of - until now.

A restraining order does nothing to prevent a disturbed individual from showing up anyhow.

This is something I also didn’t think of. Honestly, though, still being on probation on the job, I can’t afford to make any waves because I absolutely can’t afford to lose my job.

Have a plan in the event that he shows up. Think through ahead of time exactly what actions you will take.

For example, your plan can be to hit your panic button and then get yourself out immediately using an alternate exit. I don’t think confronting him and waiting for the cop need to be on your list.

This youtube video is worth a watch:

Run. Hide. Fight.

No, but it gives better grounds for arrest if he shows up – he wouldn’t even have to show some evidence of violence and they could still put him in cuffs.

What about just talking to your boss about getting the cop stationed down by the entrance before you take any formal action?

Can’t watch this at work but I will this evening.

But in the same vein, the department organized a class they call “Workplace Safety”, but it is specifically about what to do if someone comes in shooting. It’s being taught by the Chief of the Capitol Police. The first session was yesterday and several of the folks there said it was very good. I am scheduled to go to it this afternoon.

Most of the people in our building know nothing at all about this guy or the incidents with him, yet about 20% (more than 200 people) of the staff has signed up for it. It’s a rather overwhelming response that no one expected, and they’ve had to add extra sessions to handle the demand. It seems everyone expects a nutcase to show up with a gun sooner or later, no matter what the odds.

Oh yeah, this class was put together specifically as a response to this guy.

Some good news … I haven’t had to work at that desk at all today, and as I’ll be in class most of the afternoon, I probably won’t be there later either.

I’ve also learned that the officer has been reassigned back down to the entrance, and will be there today and tomorrow.

And I’ve also found out some disturbing news that makes me really question the reliability of what I’ve been told.

A couple of weeks ago we were told that one of his former supervisors had gotten a personal restraining order against him, and by coming into the building was in violation of it. So I asked why we didn’t call the cops to enforce THAT order, and I was told that the person didn’t want to pursue it. We were also told not to mention the restraining order to the troubled guy, as that might cause him to escalate.

The next week that whole story had changed – there was and hadn’t been a restraining order. Where the bullshit story cam from I have no idea, but had we mentioned a non-existent restraining order to the guy and threatened to enforce it, he certainly might have escalated and with some justification.

Today I also learned that the of a couple of nights ago was pretty thoroughly mis-characterized. The story now is that he had threatened two staff members by phone and email, and the police went to his home – whether to question or arrest him, I don’t know. But somehow during the encounter at his home, it escalated into a fight after which the guy was arrested.

The Capitol Police don’t have the most stellar of reputations here, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they contributed a very large part of the escalation.

How was the class?