A Word about Safety

by Melissa Brunner

I walked into work Wednesday and was greeted by blood on the carpet.

This was where, hours earlier, a man scuffled with coworkers, eventually pulling a knife and cutting two people. Our news director has a bump on the head, our chief engineer is sporting a black eye. They still had blood on their clothes. A walk to the front desk meant crunching over the shards of glass from the front door that littered the lobby and stretched halfway down the hall to the newsroom.

By late afternoon, all this evidence was gone. But memories remained fresh. For those of us who weren't physically in the building, it was jarring to watch the surveillance video for the first time.

I feel reasonably safe in my workplace. I still do. After all, this sort of thing has never happened. I think we realize that, since our job is so public, there is an inherent risk. I remember the first time I interviewed at the station where I had my first job, the news director commented on recent newsroom renovations and how he'd had them remove the wall of windows that exposed the reporters desks to the busy street and sidewalk outside. "People sometimes get angry with us," he told me.

We have security measures. The front entrance is locked. For those who've wondered why they need to call someone to let them in when they're arriving for their 4 pm News appearance, Wednesday was the case in point.  In recent years, the parking lot lighting has been improved and we have more security cameras inside and outside. Those of us who leave and arrive when it's dark are alert for any strange vehicles that might be loitering. In fact, we've called police several times when something isn't quite right. Our staff has gone over emergency plans and procedures - we even had Topeka Police give a presentation.

By and large, we trust the people who visit our building. You might have seen that Mr. Miles was actually allowed into the lobby when he first arrived. But we, like everyone, must be wary. I imagine our guard will be a bit higher in the weeks ahead. I imagine we'll all review just what we would do and where we would go should an emergency situation arise.

Have you done the same? Does your company have an emergency plan? Are you aware of all the entrances/exits to your building? What is the safe room?

I have often said that if a person wants to find a victim, they will find a victim. Our job is to do whatever possible to lessen the chance we and those around us will become victims. It's not about being scared, it's about being aware.


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