In light of the Oklahoma City bombing and increased violence in the workplace, Utah legislative leaders want to know what's being done to secure valuable state buildings and protect state workers.
Not a whole lot, is the answer.And ironically, state public safety officials, risk managers and personnel people must deal with concerns of violence in the workplace while the Legislature several years ago approved a concealed-weapons law that makes it much easier for permit-holders to enter state buildings with concealed handguns.
Public Safety Commissioner Doug Bodrero told members of the Legislature's Executive Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that violence in the workplace is a growing problem. Today, most female murder victims are killed in the workplace, he said, not on the street or in their homes.
Utah state government officials, relatively untouched by workplace violence, haven't been doing much to prevent violence, either.
"The first time I saw the new Tax Commission Building (after it had been constructed), I just shook my head," said Bodrero. "Eye-level windows all around (the main floor) in one of the most high-risk buildings in the state."
As bad as that may be, security at the building is much better than when tax officials were housed in the Heber Wells Building in downtown Salt Lake City. Then, anyone could take an elevator to the administration's offices and walk back into the tax commissioner's private offices without hindrance. The new building, located on west North Temple, has a main lobby but visitors can't walk back into secure areas of the building.
But even so, says Bodrero, the commission's budget allows for an armed security guard to be at the building only eight hours a day. "Which eight hours do you pick - the daylight hours when (people) may come into the building or at night when vandalism may take place?"
Law enforcement officials were scheduled to testify Wednesday afternoon in a legislative committee about concerns over people bringing concealed weapons - whether they have permits or not - into public meetings and local government hearings.
After the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, says Bodrero, Gov. Mike Leavitt asked his advisers to come up with recommendations in four areas of security. One dealt with planning more secure buildings.
Even so, says a legislative summary put together for the Executive Appropriations Committee, no consideration is taken in security matters when the state leases a building.
And more often than not, security measures on buildings the state constructs are after the fact. The new huge state courts complex under construction in downtown Salt Lake City had some of its supports strengthened to withstand explosions only after the Oklahoma bombing, said Bodrero.
The Oklahoma bombing will cost that state's government an estimated $1 billion, both in lost tax revenue and increased costs to state employees. Oklahoma state's risk management fund is being drawn down by those costs, Utah legislative staffers said. A little money now in designing building security and funding operational security day-to-day may save hundreds of millions later on, the report says.