- Police in Phoenix recently arrested a local man, Jarrell Stephens, for threatening to commit a mass shooting at a Waste Management office in the city. Stephens was arrested on four felony counts and 11 misdemeanor counts relating to threat, harassment and computer tampering, as reported by azfamily.com.
- Stephens allegedly made two online threats toward employees at the facility, once in March and again earlier this month with a detailed list of names. On that same day, July 12, he also allegedly made a false emergency call about shots fired at the building. The Phoenix Police Department worked with the FBI to investigate and he was arrested on July 13.
- "The safety of our employees is our top priority. We took the threats seriously and while we don’t discuss details of our safety protocols externally, we extended great measures to remind employees to be vigilant and to closely follow existing procedures," Isha Cogburn, a senior communications specialist with Waste Management, wrote in an emailed statement.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 417 workplace homicides in 2015, a slight increase from the year before, and none occurred in waste-related occupations. Security officials say that it's more common for companies to have plans in place for weather or fire emergencies, but active shooter preparedness is equally important. This can include a review of existing check-in protocols, reminding employees to report suspicious activity and outlining shelter-in-place or evacuation plans, among many other potential strategies.
This is seen as especially necessary because workplace shootings are often conducted by current or former employees — or family and acquaintances of those employees — with knowledge of the building. Waste Management declined to comment on any employment history related to Stephens.
Overall safety is already a top priority in the industry due to ongoing issues with high fatality and injury rates. More communities are also starting to look to their local companies for assistance in watching over the communities they service and even guarding against would-be terrorists that may want to use their trucks for an attack. This latest incident in Phoenix is a reminder that safety and vigilance is equally important for all industry employees whether they're walking behind a truck or working behind a desk.