POINT OF VIEW: Protect employees, public from workplace violence

    5:00 p.m Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 Opinion

Collecting taxes and fees from the public is not an easy job. The 300 dedicated employees of the Palm Beach County Tax Collector’s Office do their best to make the experience as pleasant and efficient as possible. Unfortunately, they must also serve angry and upset clients, some of whom threaten violence.

Just last month, our agency experienced two incidents in our service centers when customers brought guns into our workplace. Sadly, these incidents frighten employees.

Last month also marked the beginning of property tax collection, our busiest season, with agency employees serving nearly 7,000 clients in person at seven service centers across Palm Beach County. I am upset to think of the tragic consequences these two incidents could have had on our agency’s employees and the public we serve.

Workplace violence must be stopped; which is why I asked state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, to introduce an amendment to Senate Bill 134 that would have helped protect Tax Collector office employees as well as the public.

The amendment would add all Tax Collector offices to the list of places where concealed weapon permit-holders are restricted from carrying guns. Examples of places already on this list include courthouses, polling places, schools and any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality or special district. When you consider the amount of money our agency handles, the contentious nature of taxation and fees and the sheer number of clients we serve in person, it only makes sense to add Tax Collector offices to this list.

Unfortunately, Sen. Powell’s amendment did not even make it out of the Dec. 5 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. SB 134 sought to allow Floridians with concealed weapons licenses to carry firearms up to the entrance of courthouses. Fortunately, it was opposed 6-4.

The 2018 legislative session begins on Jan. 9. I urge you to contact your local representatives now to make your voice heard. We must continue to take action to protect employees and the public from workplace violence.

ANNE M. GANNON, WEST PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Anne M. Gannon is the Palm Beach County tax collector.

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