What do I do to stay safe in an investigation during a workplace investigation?
Jan. 4, 2023
What do you do to stay safe in the interview room? This is a big and important one for investigators. First and foremost, people who are causing concerned about violence or about stalking, or any of the behaviors that would cause safety concerns should never know where you're staying. They shouldn't know intimate details about you, that you might share in other investigations. Perhaps I would share that I'm a mother in investigations, but I would not share that in an investigation where I have safety concerns. Things that you can also do always want to set up your meeting room so that everybody in the room has equal access to get out the door. Don't set them up where you would have to pass the other person to get to the door to get out.
Likewise, because of false imprisonment claims that can come up, you want to ensure that they don't have to get past you to get to the door, so usually, both people have equal access to a door. To do that, you need to make sure that there are only two chairs available, one for you and one for the chair you want the interviewee to sit in. That's a huge safety concern, but you must be aware of leaving the room, the person watching you, the person watching who else you're talking to, what time you're leaving, if it's an egregious situation, you need to reach out for help. You either need to hire personal protection, I've done investigations where I had security on the campus that I was working on, and so we were able to, in one case, call a security guard; in another case, it was a sheriff, and they sat outside the room, and they couldn't hear us, they couldn't listen to what things were being said, but they could have undoubtedly heard me if I'd screamed. Still, generally speaking, nobody should ever know where you are or where you're staying when you're investigating, so don't bring the hotel pen and do interviews with the hotel pen because somebody can see where you are visiting then. The seating in the room is the most important, the distance at a table wide enough that nobody can grab your hand, things like that, and then, again, setting up the chairs so that everybody has equal access to evacuate the room.