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Keeping Your Laundry Business Safe from Violence (Part 1)

Paying attention to people, surroundings can make huge difference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The textile care industry witnessed tragedy last week when five employees of a suburban Philadelphia linen company were shot by an armed man that authorities described as a “disgruntled employee.” Two people died.

No laundry business wants to consider that their workplace could be the scene of violence — either from one-on-one confrontations or something much worse — but the simple act of denying it could happen can set the stage for calamity down the road.

This was the message of Carol Dodgen, owner of Dodgen Security Consulting, during a recent webinar titled “Staying Safe in a Violent World,” presented by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Since 1998, Dodgen’s company has provided services including training, lighting inspections, and security assessments for business and government entities.

She highlighted signs business owners should look for that might indicate vulnerabilities that could lead to violence on company grounds.

“This is kind of a good news/bad news scenario,” she says. “There are so many challenges that we face, and as far as the bad news goes, we’re not going to stop crime. We’re not going to be able to legislate or cause people to obey the laws that we have in place. We can’t legislate people’s hearts and actions. What we can do are things that will make ourselves safer.”


Dodgen has researched hundreds if not thousands of cases of violence during her company’s 26 years.

“I've spoken to people who have been shot, stabbed, kidnapped, hijacked, and all types of situations,” she says. “My goal has been to try to learn from what they have been through. A lot of times, there are things that were missed. There are things that, when they look back, they say they should have paid attention to them. Sometimes, I’m learning how they survived it. What did it take to survive what they went through?”

She says there are three ingredients to a crime:

  • The desire or motivation to commit the crime
  • The skills and tools needed to commit the crime
  • The opportunity to commit the crime

The first two are out of a business owner’s control, Dodgen says, but the third “is the one thing that we have some control over.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than seven people die a violent death in the United States per hour. In 2019, more than 19,100 people were victims of homicide, and 47,500 died by suicide.

“I know that this has gone up,” she says, “because we’ve seen increases in suicide and homicide over the last couple of years.”

In 2021, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that the homicide rate in the U.S. rose 30% between 2019 and 2020. “It is the largest increase in 100 years,” reported Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the NCHS, in the announcement.


Suicide numbers can also impact violent deaths for others, as well, Dodgen points out. She cited a 1994 incident on a FedEx flight. Auburn R. Calloway, a suicidal FedEx employee, attempted to kill the flight crew and hijack and crash the flight. “He thought he was going to be fired the next day,” she says, “because it had been discovered that he was falsifying records.”

The flight crew successfully fought Calloway off and landed the plane, but had his actions been successful and caused the plane to crash in a populated area, he, the three-person flight crew, and potentially many other people would have been killed.

“He had planned this for months,” Dodgen says. “His planning was in place, and he knew he was going to die. And if he knew he was going to die, he didn’t care how many other people went out as well. So, that’s the short lesson: If someone is suicidal, then they absolutely can be a danger to others. We can’t assume just because someone wants to take their own life, that they’re not a danger to others.”

Coming Monday in Part 2: warning signs that could indicate possible violence on the horizon — and what to do if you see them

Keeping Your Company Safe from Violence

(Image licensed by Ingram Image)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].