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Last night, a shooting occurred in a neighboring city at a business our community does business with. I am a city manager. I listened intently to the news of what was going on and came away with two very different observations. One was an affirmation of concern of a small community (pop 3,700) for friends and relatives of those working in the plant and those the friends and family waiting outside the plant to learn what they could. The other was a comment by news reporters regarding the shooter and the role the company has in diagnosing behavior that could be potentially dangerous.

Within minutes, folks in Hesston were out with coffee and cell chargers to circulate among the waiting crowd to see what they could do to help and comfort the folks waiting to find out about family still in the plant. I have come to know that is what communities do when tragedy visits them. It speaks well to those who go to comfort those who are hurting. We don't do it enough nor to the degree that we should.

On the other hand, I heard reporters asking about the mental stability of the man who was employed there and took a rifle in and started shooting. I started a thought process asking what is my responsibility as a manager/leader toward identifying personnel who could be a potential danger to himself/herself and their work colleagues. How well will our relationship building process work if we are trying to ascertain if Joe/Jane is a potential threat. And let's say we conclude there is a danger.... What do we do to protect that employee; what about protecting the organization from a person like this. How are we supposed to know? How do you protect yourself from doing the very thing that pushed the person over the edge.

It seems that our jobs will be very different in the near future. I am interested to hear what other members think of the potential change. Certainty, I do not have the answer.

Larry Paine
City Administrator
Hillsboro, Kansas, USA