Attack on DCF workers prompts call for better security

News 12 New Jersey

EDISON - Worker safety advocates are calling for increased security protocols after two employees of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families were attacked while checking on children at a home in Salem County.

This is not the first time DCF workers have been attacked. Last fall, another case worker was stabbed inside her Camden office. Advocates say enough is enough.

"These are workers who go into neighborhoods where police go armed, with bulletproof vests, in pairs," says Seth Hahn, legislative and political director for the New Jersey chapter of Communication Workers of America. Hahn says the DCF workers "go [to these locations] alone, knock on doors and say 'I need to see your kids to make sure they're safe.'"

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle says more needs to be done in order to better protect these workers. She is proposing putting metal detectors in DCF offices, as well as requiring protection for workers who request it.

"I don't think the cost is an impact and I believe it's a question of keeping them safe and making sure they're able again to address our most vulnerable children," she says.

In a statement sent to News 12 New Jersey, a spokesperson for the department says not every situation requires an armed guard.

The statement read in part, "We rely on our workers' experienced judgment to determine if an escort is necessary. If a police escort is desired, our workers always have access to not only Human Services Police, but to the state police and local law enforcement as well."

Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle's DFC Reform bill has yet to get a hearing in the State House.

The workers injured this week are expected to be OK. DCF says it's reviewing its procedures.