DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 20: Special Information
20-1 Security and Incident Reporting
Special Information
20-1  Security and Incident Reporting
Staff Security Policy
When to Report a Security Incident
Reporting an Immediate and Directed Threat of Physical Violence
Reporting Out-of-Ordinary Incidents Involving Physical Violence
Reporting Out-of-Ordinary Incidents without Physical Violence
Notifying the Court System
Personal Restraining Orders
Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A)
Employee Security Incident Staffings
Inserting Alerts in the CWS/CMS Application
Security Around the Office
Security in the Field
Assessing a Building for Safety and Security
Security at the Courthouse
Law Enforcement Agencies' Phone Numbers
Source Document
Other References

Reference Points
Effective Date: TBA
Last Updated: 6/11/09
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Tarasoff Decision
bullet Dustin's Law - not online
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
pdf Referral Management Section
PDF Court Management Section:  Ex Parte Application for Order

  • Security Guards - 8 a.m.-7 p.m. :  491-6685
Emergency Reference Guide

General Services County Wide

Automation Center (MAC)

  • 24 Hour Service
Fire, Ambulance, Police 9-911
Reception, Building 1 408-755-7100
Reception, Building 2 408-501-6300
Facilities, Building 1 408-755-7111
Security, Building 2 408-755-7199

Health and Safety Coordinator

  • Steve Palmadessa

Santa Clara County Sheriff

  • Eric Maciel










  • Guidelines for calling 911 from a cell phone (recommended by the Federal Communications Commission)
  • Tell the emergency operator your location right away, including the city.
  • Give the emergency operator your phone number so if you get disconnected the operator can call you back.
  • Tell the call-taker what type of emergency you have.
    • Program the phone number for highway accidents or other non-life threatening incidents into your phone, so you don't use 911 unnecessarily.
    • Don't program your phone to automatically dial 911 when a single key is pressed because this can result in unintentional calls to 911 that further burden the already overwhelmed system.
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The safety of Department of Family and Children's Services' (DFCS) staff is a major concern of the Social Services Agency (SSA).  Each day, DFCS staff encounter people who are under stress.  There is a potential for incidents involving staff, clients, parents, substitute caregivers, court personnel and others.  These incidents may need immediate attention, or, at a later time, it may be necessary to recall what happened during the incident when the facts are no longer clear.

The DFCS Security Policy is designed to supplement and support the SSA Agency Security Policies and Procedures as they apply both to the office and to fieldwork.  The SSA Security Policy and Procedures focus on issues related to all SSA facilities, including the Julian St. Campus.  Best Practice dictates that each office develops and trains on an internal set of security guidelines relevant to its specific facility, as a supplement to SSA Policies and Procedures.

Workplace violence is not limited to incidents of threats or violence from staff or clients.  If any staff person is a victim of threats or violence from anyone in the community, from his/her own household or from other employees, the staff person must notify his/her supervisor.

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Staff Security Policy  
  • Employees are not expected to place themselves in danger or risk their lives or health, or the lives or health of others, in the performance of their duties.
  • Employees are to follow Social Services Agency policies, procedures and guidelines and to seek assistance for other staff or outside agencies (e.g., police departments) as appropriate, in carrying out Departmental responsibilities and performing job tasks which may involve working with hostile and dangerous clients.
  • Employees are expected to plan for and apply reasonable care and caution in all potentially dangerous situations and to use good judgment in balancing the requirements of job performance and safety issues.
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When to Report a Security Incident  

A report must be made via the Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A) when any out-of-the-ordinary incident occurs that causes any staff person to believe he/she or others is/are at risk, currently or in the future.  Examples of such incidents include, but are not limited to:

  • A threat made or physical action is perpetrated by an individual against a client, child, substitute care provider, attorney, co-worker, staff person or any individual associated with a DFCS case or work-related circumstances.
  • Any of the above persons experiencing being stalked or followed by someone.
  • A non-accidental injury sustained in the course of work activities.
  • An employee having a personal restraining order or concern about his/her safety at work related to a personal association outside of work.


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Reporting an Immediate and Directed Threat of Physical Violence  

If a staff person becomes aware of an immediate and directed threat of physical violence, the staff person who becomes aware of the immediate risk must:

  • Immediately contact:
    • The specific person at risk and/or the person's supervisor by telephone to warn the person(s) of the physical violence threat.
    • 911 to summon emergency law enforcement response.
    • The Sheriff's Department (491-4702), if the site of the potential immediate violence is the Court Building.
    • Office Security (408-755-7199), if the site of the immediate violence is any DFCS site.
    • His/Her supervisor.
      • The supervisor, in turn, contacts the bureau SSPM.
      • In the case of After-Hours, the After-Hours supervisor or the Child Abuse Hotline (299-2071) is contacted for reporting of the incident.


After notification is given, the staff person:

  • Checks to confirm whether he/she will need to be available for a police interview.
  • Completes a Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A).
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Reporting Out-of-Ordinary Incidents Involving Physical Violence  
If a staff person becomes aware of an out-of-the-ordinary incident that involves physical violence and..

then the staff person..

and there is a reasonable possibility of further violence follows the procedures under section Reporting an Immediate and Directed Threat of Physical Violence.
there is not a reasonable possibility of further violence
  • Confirms that the incident was reported.
  • Completes a Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A)


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Reporting Out-of-Ordinary Incidents without Physical Violence  

Out-of-the-ordinary incidents without physical violence refer to those incidents that include threatening telephone calls or letters, vandalism, stalking, theft, client to client threats, or Tarasoff conditions.

If a staff person becomes aware of an out-of-the-ordinary incident that does not include physical violence, the staff person:

  • Make a police report.
    • Take the police officer's name and the report number, and include them on the Security Incident Report.
  • Completes a Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A) within 48 hours of becoming aware of the incident.
    • Include the name of the police officer who took the police report and the report number.


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Notifying the Court System  

In Between Court Hearings

If in between scheduled court hearings a staff person becomes aware of a safety concern that may occur at the Courthouse, the staff person:

  • Contacts the Court Assistant at the Office of County Counsel (491-4200) and provides:
    • The child's name
    • The petition number
    • The date and court department in which the case is scheduled
    • The details of the concern
    • The names of anyone who will be at the hearing, including children, parents, attorneys and relatives.


The Court Assistant relays the information to the appropriate person.



If during After-Hours a staff person becomes aware of a safety concern that may occur at the Courthouse, the staff person calls the:

  • Child Abuse Hotline (299-2071), if the assigned social worker needs to be notified.
  • Court Department in question on the date of the hearing to notify court personnel of the concern.
  • Sheriff's Office (808-4700), as soon as the Office opens at 7 a.m.


At the Courthouse

If a staff person is at the Courthouse and becomes aware of a safety concern, the staff person:

  • Relays the information to the:
    • Court Assistant
    • Receptionist
    • Any of the bailiffs, including those at the front entrance of the Courthouse.
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Personal Restraining Orders  

If a DFCS employee has a personal restraining order, the employee must provide a copy of the order to the Chairperson of the Security Committee to ensure the employee's and Agency staff's security.  A copy of the order is shared with Social Services Agency (SSA) and DFCS security personnel by the Security Committee Chairperson.  The employee's privacy and confidentiality is safeguarded to the extent possible.

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Security Incident Report (SCZ1617A)  

To complete a Security Incident Report (SCZ 1617A):

Staff person:

  • Completes each section of the form with factual information.
    • The form must be completed within 2 business days of the incident.
    • The staff person describes the incident in his/her own words.
    • A medical statement is included in the report, if a doctor has been consulted.
      • The Security Incident Report does not replace the required Supervisor's First Report of Industrial Injury/Illness.
  • Submits the Security Incident Report to his/her supervisor.


Staff person's supervisor:

  • Reviews the Security Incident Report with the staff person.
  • Discusses safety planning with the staff person.
  • Adds additional comments to the SCZ 1617A that include a plan of action and any additional information that is of significance.
  • Makes three copies of the Report.
  • Gives the original Report to the employee to file in the child's case file, if the incident involves an open case.
  • Sends a copy of the Report to the bureau SSPM for any further action.



  • Reviews the Security Incident Report.
  • Determines if a Security Staffing needs to be held.
  • Submits copies of the Security Incident Report to the:
    • DFCS Security Committee Chairperson
      • Larry Merkur, SSPM, 373 W. Julian, 4th floor
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Employee Security Incident Staffings  

Security Staffings are available to review a staff person's safety concern and plan for the welfare and safety of the individual(s) involved. 

Mandatory Employee Safety Staffings are required when:

Program Manager:

  • Schedules a security staffing with the staff person and the staff person's supervisor.
  • Contacts the Chair of the Worker Security Committee (501-6725) if an expanded security staffing is needed.


The staffing committee is available to:

  • Develop a safety plan for a DFCS employee, foster parent or child. 
    • The committee may be utilized for development of a safety plan whether the safety concern involves DFCS clients or the concern involves a staff person's own personal matters.


The Security Staffing Committee may include:

  • Staff person
  • Staff person's supervisor
  • Bureau SSPM
  • Security Committee Chair or designated member of the Committee
  • DFCS Director
  • DFCS Deputy Director
  • Domestic Violence Unit Supervisor
  • County Counsel
  • Contract Agency Representative
  • Community Liaison
  • Foster Parent
  • Relative Support Team Member


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Security Around the Office  
  • Before interviewing a client, a DFCS staff person reviews the case file for a history of violence.
    • Check to determine if the case has a Security Incident Report filed in the case file.
  • Clients are not to be invited into the employee office areas. 
    • If clients are in the interior of the building for a TDM, they must be escorted by staff.
  • Avoid using the automatic door opening feature on secured doors.  The doors stay open for several seconds after the button is pushed, and a breach of security is possible.
  • If a staff person has a concern about a possible safety issue when preparing to meet with a client at the office, the staff person:
    • Develops a plan of action for responding, if the client becomes aggressive or violent, for example:
      • Notify the security guard to be on site.
      • Alert both the security guard and the receptionist to call 911, if necessary.
      • Notify the supervisor of the interview time and place.
  • During an interview in an interview room, social workers:
    • Check to make sure that there are no objects in the room that could be used as potential weapons.
    • Maintain a distance of 5-7 feet between himself/herself and a client who is agitated or who the social worker has not previously met.
    • Assure that they have easy access to an exit without having to pass by the client.
    • Assure that clients have obvious access to the door and not feel hemmed in.
  • Office interviews with clients at DFCS offices outside regular business hours (7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.) is forbidden, unless an office security person or supervisor is immediately available.
    • This may not apply at the Family Resource Centers.
  • To assure safety in the office parking area, the staff person is advised to:
    • Carry his/her keys and to be ready to unlock the car door without delay. 
    • Look around the car for any indication of problems.
    • Examine the interior of the car. 
    • Request that another staff person escorts him/her to his/her car, if there has just been an interview with an extremely angry or volatile client.
    • Move his/her car closer to the building earlier in the day, if possible.
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Inserting Alerts in the CWS/CMS Application  

There are text boxes in both CWS/CMS referrals and cases where staff can make notations about possible risk to safety and potential dangers to those associated with the referral or case.  The Screener Alert (referrals) or the Case Alert (cases) box on the ID page may be used to enter critical alert information, including:

  • Warnings about dangerous tendencies of a client
  • Environmental concerns, such as "aggressive dog" or "remote location"
  • Other important information that should be transmitted to any staff member receiving the referral or case.


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Security in the Field  
  • Before going on a home or field visit, staff must always sign out with a case name, location of visit, expected time of return and cell phone number, if the employee uses a cell phone in the course of business.
    • Check the case file to determine if a prior Security Incident Report is filed in the case file.
  • If a home visit is expected to be "high risk," notify the supervisor about the visit.
    • Consider making a joint visit with the supervisor, a co-worker or police.
  • If needing to use a cell phone for an emergency 911 call, the connection may not be to a local operator.  It may be necessary to tell the 911 operator your location.
  • Safety tips for home visiting.
    • Dress appropriately for the visit.
    • Limit jewelry.
    • Wear low-heeled shoes.
    • Do not carry a purse or put you purse in the trunk of the car.
    • Walk with purpose.
    • Be alert to people that may be around.
    • Be cautious of strangers who approach.
      • Keep a safe distance and keep moving.
  • Be sure your car is in good running condition.
    • Gas up in a familiar neighborhood.
    • Carry a map and a flashlight.
    • Always lock car doors.
  • Pay attention to the environment.
    • Drive by the visit site and observe:
      • Signs of disturbances.
      • Crowds of people or large numbers of vehicles, suggesting other people are present inside the house.
      • People who appear to be loitering.
    • Consider the need for security assistance from law enforcement.
  • Park where you have:
    • A clear path to exit.
    • A view of you car from the client's house.
  • Avoid looking "lost" by having a sense of purpose about you and knowing exactly where you are going.
  • Do not leave business cards on the dashboard.
  • Ask who else is present in the house, besides the people you see. 
    • Ask if anyone else is expected to come to the home during the home visit.
  • If people are angry:
    • Be alert.
      • A basic rule is not to let anyone leave your sight until you have assessed the potential for violence.
    • Have the disputants sit down.
      • Tension is reduced when people are sitting.
    • Give people their personal space.
      • Sit at an angle to the person rather than face to face or head-on.
    • AND you find yourself in immediate danger or feeling unsafe, leave the critical area immediately.
  • If you come from a home visit in which you felt that your safety was threatened, discuss the visit with your supervisor.
  • When returning to your car:
    • Carry your keys.
    • Be ready to unlock the door without delay.
    • Choose safe path to the car.
    • Examine your car and contents before entering.
  • Carry a flashlight with you for safety at night.
  • Report all serious incidents on a Security Incident Report (SC 1617A) within 2 working days of the occurrence.
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Assessing a Building for Security and Safety  
  • When using an elevator, observe the inside of the elevator before entering. 
    • Wait for the next elevator, if someone inside looks suspicious.
    • Exit the elevator, if a suspicious person enters.
  • When using the stairs, check the stairwell.
    • Note exit signs and exits.
    • Exit the stairwell, if you are suspicious of any conditions.
  • When arriving at a client's residence, listen at the door of the client's residence before knocking.
  • If the situation warrants, advise the client that you will return with law enforcement, if not allowed entry.
  • When entering a client's home, scan the room/home for potential danger.
    • Determine where you and the client will be the most safe and comfortable.
    • Ask to hold the interview on the porch or patio, if you do not feel comfortable in the home.
    • Kitchens are unsafe places in which to talk at length, due to the availability of sharp objects.
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Security at the Courthouse  

The Court setting presents specific and unique security problems.  Not only are serious decisions made for families, but the clients for whom those court decisions are made may have many problems, including a propensity for violence.  The stresses of dealing with the system and court attendance sometimes results in violent behavior in the courthouse or courtroom.  Staff should remain alert and take every precaution to prevent security problems at the court.

Signs to look for:

  • Person has a history of violence.
  • Person has made a specific threat.
  • A violent conflict exists between the parties.
  • There have been prior incident reports.

Follow procedures for Notifying the Court System.

  • If a security emergency erupts at the courthouse, stay in an enclosed room such as the social workers' workroom. 
  • If needing protection going to the Court, the social worker notifies County Counsel, beforehand, to have the Court Assistant arrange for law enforcement assistance. 
  • If needing protection after a Court Hearing, the social worker notifies the Court Assistant or bailiff in the courtroom.
  • If harassed in line while waiting to enter the courtroom, immediately proceed to the head of the line and notify the bailiff of the situation.
  • Report any emergency situations.
    • Do not assume that someone else has reported the situation.
  • If a child is brought to court, the child should always be under the supervision of the social worker or responsible adult.
    • If an incident occurs, incorporate the child into your security plan, keeping the child with you at all times.


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Law Enforcement Agencies' Phone Numbers  
Dispatch Number

Campbell Police Dept.

70 N. First St.

Campbell, CA  95008


Gilroy Police Dept.

7370 Rosanna St.

Gilroy, CA  95020


Los Altos Police Dept.

1 N. San Antonio Rd.

Los Altos, CA  94022

(650) 947-2827

Los Gatos Police Dept.

110 Main St.

Lost Gatos, CA  95030


Milpitas Police Dept.

1275 N. Milpitas Blvd.

Milpitas, CA  95035


Morgan Hill Police Dept.

17605 Monterey Rd.

Morgan Hill, CA  95037


Mountain View Police Dept.

1000 Villa St.

Mountain View, CS  94041


Palo Alto Police Dept.

275 Forest Ave.

Palo Alto, CA  94301

(650) 329-2413

San Jose Police Dept.

201 W. Mission

San Jose, CA  95110


Santa Clara Police Dept.

1541 Civic Center Dr.

Santa Clara, CA  95050


Sheriff's Police Dept.

55 W. Younger St.

San Jose, CA  95110


Sunnyvale Police Dept.

700 All America Way

Sunnyvale, CA  94086



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  • Chair of the DFCS Security Committee

Larry Merkur, SSPM

Tel: (408) 501-6725


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Source Document   Security and Incident Reporting / Operations Handbook
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Other References  
doc Workplace Violence Prevention: A Guide for Employees
doc Workplace Violence Prevention: A Guide for Supervisors
doc Agency Announcement: Reminders Concerning Security and Security Incident Reporting, October 25, 2007
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