Fears about worker shootings prompt new business tactics

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Paycom personnel monitor physical and IT security in the command center at the Oklahoma City Paycom campus Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, in Oklahoma City. Company officials say they ramped-up security after a disgruntled ex-worker began frightening employees with threatening messages and social media posts. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Security is not subtle at the sprawling campus of human resources technology giant Paycom in Oklahoma City.

Off-duty police officers roam the grounds, bolstering the company’s own force of armed guards. A basement command center that looks like something out of a spy movie is filled with video screens showing feeds from hundreds of security cameras at company offices across the country.

While heavy security has become common at airports and stadiums to deter terrorism, extreme measures have been out of the ordinary at most companies eager to maintain a comfortable work environment and a welcoming atmosphere.

But that may be changing, as more are now hardening their defenses with new techniques, and even new legal authority, to deal with growing fears about violence on the job.

As mass shootings have become frequent, more company leaders have confronted an absence of clear plans for protecting workers from a disgruntled colleague, even after a threat is received.

Now, spurred by an incident at Paycom, the company has produced a formal threat assessment and response guide that serves as a national model for ways to keep a potentially dangerous person away from other workers.

The company’s approach also includes a new measure based on domestic violence laws.

“This is a huge leap forward in public policy for safety in this country,” said Larry Barton, a University of Central Florida professor who teaches courses in threat evaluation at the FBI Academy. “This is a case study, for me as an educator, that I believe will be taught in business schools and in criminal justice courses for decades to come.”