Union questions employees' safety after armed standoff
'The question now is whether more needs to be done to protect our members'
An incident inside a provincial government office at the Sherwood Business Centre in Charlottetown Tuesday night is raising questions about safety and security.
A man with what police called a small knife barricaded himself inside a social services office in protest. Police say he came into the office at 4:30 p.m. and passed a note to the receptionist — who was behind a glass barrier — indicating if he was forced to leave, he'd harm himself.
The question now is whether more needs to be done to protect our members and the public.— Karen Jackson, UPSE PEI president
The receptionist called 911. The only other client in the reception area at the time left without incident, and police arrived.
"They started the normal procedure of cordoning off the area and making sure access points were secured, and all staff members were in safe places," said Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Brad MacConnell.
"The suspect, you know, appeared to be no threat to anyone but himself."
Crisis negotiators managed to resolve the situation peacefully and removed the man around 9:30 p.m. He's undergoing a mental health assessment and may face charges.
Not the first time
P.E.I.'s Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy wouldn't be specific, but did tell CBC News new safety protocols were put in place at this office last June, after an incident in which a woman smashed windows with a hammer.
Today the Union of Public Sector Employees, which represents staff at the social services office, expressed concern.
"My utmost concern is for the health and safety of our members and ensuring that the employer is providing the necessary safeguards to protect them in situations like this," wrote UPSE president Karen Jackson in a statement.
"The question now is whether more needs to be done to protect our members and the public," said Jackson.
The government, Mundy said, will review the matter with police.
'Staff were fully prepared'
"You can never predict it. You can never prevent it. But you can be prepared," Tina Mundy said Wednesday.
"Last night our staff were fully prepared. They reacted exactly as they should have. They called police. Police arrived immediately, and thank goodness everyone was safe."
Some senior government staff stayed in a space police said was well-secured from the reception area, while others left through another exit.
There was no need to evacuate or block off any other part of the mall, McConnell said.
"It's a business centre, so we're quite conscious of the fact there's restaurants and other establishments in the area, but we're quite confident we had the situation under control," he said.
With files from Steve Bruce