Company Provides Training To Prevent Workplace Violence

By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thursday’s shooting at a Kansas businesscalled Excel Industries is just the latest case of workplace violence. 

The most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found more than 550 people are killed every year in work-related homicides.

Minnesota resident Peter Johnson believes he can help prevent these types of homicides. 

“It does get really frustrating. After a while we just wish that people would know what to look for and so that we could start mitigating it. And that’s actually why we do what we do,” Johnson said.

He is a former U.S. Air Marshal who runs Archway Defense, training businesses, churches and individuals how to defend themselves in the event of a workplace threat.

When it comes to Cedric Ford, the alleged shooter at Excel Industries, Johnson says there were warning signs — including a Facebook post in January where Ford used an expletive when he checked in to work. 

“This was a turning point when we’re digging through his social media that we saw something different,” Johnson said. “Part of the conversation has to be ‘people don’t snap.’ Pre-assault indicators are present, so why don’t we train everybody on what pre-assault indicators are.”

Johnson says there are three elements that go into workplace violence: an employee may have a perceived injustice, personal issues and an “X-person” they have targeted their anger towards. 

“We can use this model for almost any workplace violence,” Johnson said. 

The next step is to take away one or more of those elements before it is too late. 

“Can we remove the perceived injustice? We might be able to dull it down. Explain why they didn’t get the promotion. Explain why the termination, right?” he said. “Partner with them a little bit more, give them a road map to what’s going on.”

Johnson says not enough is known yet about with what caused Ford to open fire on his co-workers. Authorities in Kansas say he was served an “order for protection from abuse” from an acquaintance shortly before the shooting began. Investigators say the acquaintance is not an employee at Excel.