Knoxville Police share prevention, safety strategies with workplace violence

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — This week’s deadly workplace shooting in Wisconsin has prompted many to ask questions here in East Tennessee: What are the warning signs? How can you stay safe at work?

MORE: Police: Shooter at Milwaukee Miller brewery shot and killed five people before turning gun on self

Milwaukee Police have identified the suspected gunman as 51-year-old Anthony Ferrill, who was an employee at the Milwaukee’s Molson Coors brewery. Police say five people plus the shooter were killed at the brewery.

MORE: Grandfather, Navy vet among 5 victims of Wisconsin shooting

Knoxville Police say there are two things to focus on if you’re in a work environment: Knowing your coworkers and knowing the layout of your office.

“You get comfortable and you get comfortable with your co-workers but a lot of times you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors unless they’re talking about it,” said Officer John Morgan with the Knoxville Police Department.

Officer Morgan is with the Safety Education Unit and says when it comes to workplace violence, employees need to pay attention to red flags in their co-workers.

“It could be anything from drug use, alcohol use, problems at home, finances, talking about incidents of violence like ‘Oh, I would’ve done the same thing,’ ” he said.

It’s those kinds of red flags Officer Morgan says you don’t want to dismiss.

“If you see something, you need to say something. Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t say, ‘I’ll talk to my supervisor about it next week. I don’t want to be a tattletale.’ In today’s times, you can’t take that grain of salt and keep it on the side. You need to report that,” he said.

If a dangerous situation involving an active shooter ever arises where you work, officers say follow a simple strategy: It’s called “Run, Fight, Hide.”

“Run being if you have an escape-able path to get away. Distance is your friend. Get away from it, grab others, try and get them to go. If you can’t, find a place to hide. Lock the door, silence your cell phone, get behind a desk and fight if you have to. Maybe you have to fight first, maybe it’s right in front of you,” Sgt. Donny Huskey with the Knoxville Police Department said.

MORE: U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Active Shooter Preparedness

Huskey says always be ready for the next step and never hesitate, “Treat it what it sounds like. Time is precious.”

It’s important to also be aware of your surroundings inside and outside the office, even when you’re clocking in and out of work.

“It can happen anywhere, anywhere at any time,” added Huskey.

KPD officers a free training course to businesses and churches on active shooter preparedness. If you would like to schedule a class you can call 865-215-1510.

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