Following the tragedy of a Kansas tax agent suffering gunshot wounds on the job from a taxpayer, The Eagle featured a story (“Privatization moved state workers to unsecured office where shooting occurred,” Sept. 20) in which sources hypothesized he wouldn’t have been shot had the state not chosen to move his office.
In the article, sources were quoted suggesting that had Department of Revenue employees not moved from Finney State Office Building three years ago, the shooting incident wouldn’t have happened. This claim warrants additional facts for Eagle readers to consider in the context of this unique incident.
First, the article claims that the Twin Lakes tax office is “unsecured.” That is inaccurate. Visitors to the building have to be buzzed in through a secured door that is locked at all times. The suspect met with the tax agent under the guise of legitimate business.
The article claims the Finney State Office Building was protected by armed guards, and that is false. There were indeed unarmed security guards at the front entrance to the building. Had the suspect in the shooting walked past them to meet with his tax agent, they would not have stopped him.
Further, Finney State Office Building itself presented significant security issues for state employees, including in its secluded parking garage. State employees were routinely harassed and felt threatened when coming to and from their workplace. That among other factors prompted state leadership to look at other options.
There are no perfect solutions for security. However, I’m heading up a review of safety procedures in offices across the entirety of state government. Security has always been a priority for state agencies. One area that has been assessed is the telecommunications system to ensure employees were able to immediately access assistance in case of an emergency.
Other measures will be implemented as the security review continues. We will continue to focus on solutions to protect both our valuable employees and the people they serve.
Sarah Shipman is secretary of the Kansas Department of Administration.