Employee safety and security have always been at the top of my list of responsibilities as State Director of USDA Rural Development in Maine. Our 58 employees in Maine work directly with the public to deliver essential programs that impact individuals, businesses, lenders, and communities; my staff’s personal security is something that the USDA and I take very seriously.
This past November, our staff welcomed Federal Protective Service Inspector Talis Jordans from the Department of Homeland Security to provide training in Bangor and Lewiston, Maine. Talis is an Active Firearms Instructor, a National Weapons Detection Training Program Inspector, and a Field Training Evaluation Program Instructor.
The important security training that Talis provided to USDA Rural Development staff addressed active shooter situations, suspicious package incidents, email and cyber security incidents, and more. The valuable training not only included an in-depth review of how an employee should handle each type of security incident, but also a visit to each USDA Rural Development office in Maine to specifically assess and review how to handle life-threatening situations – such as an active shooter in the workplace.
Active shooter incidents, both in public places and the workplace, are on the rise in the United States according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additionally, as public servants, government employees are at increased risk of workplace violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, rates of workplace violence in the government sector are more than three times higher than the rate for private sector employees. These violent incidents unfold in seconds, and it is critical that our staff has the training Talis provided to know how to act quickly to protect themselves and their coworkers.
USDA Rural Development takes the threat of workplace violence and staff safety very seriously. Some of the precautions we have taken in Maine include the installation of keypad systems that require an individual to enter a passcode before entering agency space, security cameras, distribution of the Occupant Emergency Plan to all staff, installation of AED units at all Maine Rural Development Offices, and annual continuing education courses on workplace security.
I am pleased that our Maine USDA Rural Development staff received this important training, and am grateful to be a part of a government agency that invests in the safety and well-being of our greatest asset – our people.