Fifth Judicial District - Department of Correctional Services


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TITLE: Work Place Violence Prevention Program


It is the intent of the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services that threats, threatening behavior, and acts of violence against employees, by employees, or by other individuals on the Department's property, will not be tolerated. The Department will take all threats seriously. It is the Department's goal to eliminate violent behavior and the threat of such behavior from all work sites.


Violence or threat of violence, by or against any employee of the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, or any other person while on the Department's property, is strictly prohibited. The prohibited action will subject the perpetrator, if an employee, to serious disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, and, in all cases, possible criminal prosecution.

The possession of firearms or dangerous weapons (as defined below) while on The Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services' property, or in a Department facility or vehicle, is strictly prohibited. Employees violating this policy will be terminated. This policy does not apply to Fugitive Unit officers, or other employees that may be operating within the normal scope of their duties, and using such weapons as tools of their profession.

All Department employees will receive training on methods of defusing hostile situations.

    1. Dangerous Weapons: As defined in Section 702.7 of the Code of Iowa, include, but not limited to any offensive weapon, pistol, revolver, or other firearm, dagger, razor, stiletto, switchblade knife, or knife having a blade exceeding five (5) inches in length:
    2. Work Site: Includes all property owned or occupied by The Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services as well as Department vehicles.
    3. Possession: Includes, but not limited to, the presence of a weapon on the employee, in his/her motor vehicle, lunch box, tool kit, bag, purse, cabinets, office, etc.
    4. Violence in the workplace may include:
      1. The use of physical force with the intent to cause harm.
      2. Acts or threats in any form or manner, which are intended to intimidate, cause fear, or cause harm.
      3. The act of creating a hostile or intimidating work environment by means of words, actions, or physical contact, which would have the purpose or effect of alarming, insulting, or provoking another person.
      4. The intentional damage of The Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services owned or personal property or acts intended to cause such property to fail to operate, or to operate improperly.
    In an emergency situation involving actual or potential violence, the first priority is to protect the safety and well being of persons involved. Because each situation involves unique factors, the following guidelines are intended to provide general guidance. The key elements are safety, reporting, coordination, and control. The following procedures should be followed when dealing with an angry person:
    1. Attempt to de-escalate the situation as soon as the person shows signs of anxiety. Through verbal and non-verbal skills, attempt to be supportive and helpful.
    2. If the situation does not de-escalate, then firm but respectful direction must be given.
      1. Take away the person's audience by removing the individual to an area where there is less public involvement in the situation.
      2. Allow the person to vent some anger. Be helpful and supportive. Do not presume the person is at fault.
      3. Set limits for the person. Provide the person with direction by giving clear choices and consequences.
    3. If the situation continues to escalate and violence or threats of violence occur, immediately call the emergency number (9-911) and report as many details as possible.
    4. An employee who is involved in, or who witnesses a violent incident, shall immediately notify a supervisor, manager, Assistant Director, or Director.
    5. The Assistant Director or another department management representative will perform the investigation of the incident, assist in disciplinary action (if necessary), and assist in referral(s) to the Employee and Family Resources Employee Assistance Program.
    6. If a person enters your place of work using a weapon to carry out a physical attack, remove yourself from the area immediately.
    1. These guidelines are intended to aid supervisors in dealing with violent or potentially violent situations at work where the supervisor is in a position to intervene and control the situation.
    2. In circumstances deemed by the supervisor to be an emergency call 9-911, and then contact the appropriate Assistant Director. It is understood that the actions of a supervisor or other employee will depend on the seriousness and nature of the incident. However, consistent with personal safety, supervisors are to make a good faith effort to diffuse violent or potentially violent behavior as quickly as possible in order to prevent escalation. The term "altercation", used in these guidelines, includes actual or threatened violence including verbal or physical confrontation, or assault, or attempts at such assault.
    1. When you receive a credible threat from an offender to do bodily harm.
      1. Notify your immediate supervisor immediately.
      2. Prepare and forward an incident report documenting the threat in detail.
      3. The supervisor will arrange a meeting with the employee and the Assistant Director. The meeting will be used to develop a safety plan and implement safeguards for the protection of the employee.
    1. Separate the individual involved. Do not allow a minor altercation to escalate into a more serious situation. If the individuals cannot be separated, dial 9-911, and contact the supervisor or Assistant Director.
    2. All Department employees are responsible for notifying management of any threats that they have witnessed or received. The employee should contact their supervisor or Assistant Director. Department employees who obtain a restraining order against individuals are strongly encouraged to report the presence of a restraining order to their supervisor and Assistant Director.
    3. Once the situation is under control, the supervisor, along with the Assistant Director, shall interview all persons involved, including any witnesses, in order to obtain an accurate account of the incident. The incident will be documented in writing and reviewed by management.
    4. The Assistant Director, consulting with the Director of the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, will decide on the appropriate disciplinary action, if necessary.
    Workplace altercations, including those involving only verbal exchanges, justify appropriate corrective action. The supervisor and Assistant Director should be contacted for guidance.
    The Employee and Family Resources' Employee Assistance Program has the capability of providing post-incident counseling for employees and their families. Organizations that have experienced critical incidents have found that such incidents in the workplace affect not only those directly involved, but produce psychological trauma to others in the organization as well. Employees affected by violence in the workplace are encouraged to seek assistance through the Employee Assistance Program.
    The Polk County Risk Manager will perform an exposure assessment regarding the potential hazards associated with workplace violence at all Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services specific sites to reduce the possibility of violent incidents.
    All employees of the Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services will provide training in workplace violence. The records regarding employees attending the workshops will be kept on file for a minimum of three (3) years. The Personnel Office will provide training for employees.
    The Fifth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services will implement its Workplace Violence Prevention Program by taking the following steps:
    1. Internal discussion by key management personnel to develop a policy statement and plan for implementation.
    2. Adoption of a written policy by the Department's Board of Directors.
    3. The Polk County Risk Manager will undertake a building-by-building assessment of potential hazards and possible prevention methods.
    4. Employees will be trained on a building-by-building basis.
    The workplace Violence Prevention Program will be reviewed and updated at least annually, and whenever such updating is indicated by changes, modifications will be made and communicated to employees.
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