On July 14th, 2015, two Salem County DCF workers were seriously assaulted while trying to affect a removal. Although we believe that they are okay and will make a full recovery, make no mistake about this: these workers could have been killed.
We know that you are fiercely devoted to the families that you work with and that no one wants to turn social work and family services into law enforcement – but we must make sure that workers are safe in the field. PLEASE request law enforcement assistance in any potentially dangerous circumstance including any removal. A Buddy is not enough. In this case, the worker had a buddy. Violent and mentally ill clients are extremely dangerous and even our highly skilled staff cannot possibly de-escalate every situation.
We know that we cannot rely upon the current Administration to keep us safe. That is why we asked Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle and Senator Nilsa Cruz Perez to sponsor legislation – Leah’s Law – that would require licensed police officers in the building, proper security features including metal detectors, and police trained in child protective services to accompany workers in removals and any dangerous situation. It allows the caseworker and manger to make an assessment about whether a buddy and/or police are necessary and says the police have to be available within 30 minutes of the request. We will need your help in lobbying for and getting this legislation passed, but in the meantime, we need you to help keep all DCF workers safe by appropriately requesting law enforcement when needed. If you are not afforded law enforcement assistance when you ask for it, make sure that you let your shop steward know BEFORE you go out in the field so that your steward can contact your Local for assistance.
Thank you for your attention. Please be safe.
CWA NJ Director
President, CWA Local 1037
President, CWA Local 1038
President, CWA Local 1039