Social workers want law to protect them from threats

March 03, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County social workers testified Tuesday that angry parents have threatened to kill them.

They are asking the legislature for a law to protect them from those threats, which have been idle so far and which police are powerless to address.

Debbie Mills, 33, of Clear Spring, told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Tuesday that she was threatened by a man she had taken to court for an increase in his child support order.

"Basically he blamed me for everything that had gone wrong in his life from birth," Mills said.

She was so concerned she had a security guard escort her in and out of the Washington County Social Services office on North Potomac Street.


Kelly Graves, 27, of Hagerstown, said she has been threatened twice, once while she was a foster care worker and once while she worked for child protective services.

In both cases, police told her there was little she could do about the threats that put her in fear of going to work.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, introduced legislation that would make it a crime to threaten state and local employees.

Elected officials already enjoy the protection.

Washington County Social Services Director David Engle said the threats are an increasing problem faced by people who are on the "front lines" every day.

"People are getting more angry, more frustrated. They're looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame. If we don't take these threats seriously we could have a tragedy on our hands," Engle said.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees supports the bill.

A social worker from Montgomery County, Md., also testified in its favor.

The Herald-Mail Articles