In August, the U.S. experienced yet another shooting where an individual with no official record of violent behavior may have committed a truly heinous act. When two broadcast journalists for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia were shot in the head and killed (with a third being injured), allegedly by disgruntled former employee Vester Lee Flanagan, citizens everywhere asked themselves, “What could we have done to prevent this? Where were the red flags?”
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for individuals who present a danger to the public to be “officially” non-violent. When the media unravels their backgrounds, information gleaned from associates often uncovers dangerous tendencies, patterns of escalating violence or threats, or other anti-social behavior that portrays a picture of instability and/or rage. In this case, the alleged gunman, known professionally as Bryce Williams, had even made public comments on the social media network, Twitter, that provided ample evidence of personal animosity towards at least one victim.
For employers, this is a particularly worrisome issue. Hiring an individual who later displays violent, disruptive or antisocial behaviors can put both the firm and its personnel at risk. The consequences can include lawsuits with financial penalties if the problematic individual injures employees or causes them to fear for their safety. Public displays of anger on social media wreak further damage on an organization, as they can go viral and result in significant damage to the corporate reputation.
The criminal checks that accompany some (but not all) gun purchases are insufficient to identify deep-seated problems that lead to destructive behavior. Only thorough employment background screenings, accompanied by in-depth interviews with a candidate’s former employers and associates, can paint a complete picture of an individual.
For more information or to discuss an evaluation of your company’s current screening processes, we invite you to give us a call at (765) 932-5917.