Posted September 11, 2019 in Process Service
In light of recent instances of process server violence, it is imperative for servers everywhere to keep their own safety in mind. While serving papers isn’t typically dangerous, working in rough neighborhoods and with anxious individuals, can land servers in potentially threatening situations. Here are some process server safety tips and resources so you can go into your serves prepared.
Use and Check Erin’s List
If you’ve never heard of it, Erin’s list is a free tool for process servers that allows them to report and observe locations where threatening incidents have taken place. Using Erin’s List, servers can make informed decisions about where they serve and what jobs to take. Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to pass up an attempt if a situation compromises your safety in any way. If another process server experienced a negative interaction at the location in the past, don’t attempt the serve yourself.
Have the Right Tools
An important part of preparation is bringing the right equipment. As far as safety goes, this includes comfortable shoes and clothes that you can run in while also looking professional. Depending on the individual, it also might include defensive items such as pepper spray, a taser, or a legal firearm. If you bring such items, know how to use them safely since you may access them quickly and without warning.
Always have an Exit Strategy
Even if you’re serving in what’s generally considered a “safe” neighborhood, enter into every serve with the knowledge of how to leave quickly. As you walk to the door, look for objects you could trip on or potentially use for defense as well as places you could hide or use for cover. Always park as close as you can and keep your keys accessible in case you need to make a quick getaway.
Record your Serves
While this is a debated topic and laws vary by state, body cameras are an option for process servers concerned about their safety. Whether you use a legitimate body camera or simply record audio via your phone, recording your serves provides indisputable evidence in the event of an incident. Declaring you have a recording device can also discourage testy individuals from bad behavior. But before you use such technology, check your local laws in order to see what kinds of recording devices are legal in your state.
Leave when Asked
Good service is the ideal goal but it is not more important than your life. If someone threatens you, whether it is verbally, physically, or with a weapon, do not challenge them or question their resolve. While some may make empty threats, it is best not to take the gamble. Simply return to the safety of your vehicle and document your service attempt in full.
Take the Time to Learn
It takes practice and experience to learn how to defuse tense situations, but there are resources that can help you. Ask for the experience and opinion of mentors, take classes online or at your local college, or read about the experiences of others online. Just remember that an important part of defusing situations is recognizing when it is too far gone and the only solution is to walk away.
Be Prepared for Anything
Preparation looks different for different people. Some people like to arm themselves, some do not. Some people wear bulletproof vests, others simply wear clothes they can easily run in. Whatever preparation looks like for you, start with the basics of letting someone know where you are going, keeping a first aid kit in the car, and being aware of your surroundings so you know where to go in case of an emergency. Also, keep in mind common obstacles that process servers face, such as handling dog attacks or weathering natural disasters.
There are many resources process servers can use to expand their safety knowledge and support others in doing the same. For example, ServeNow’s PAAPRS campaign promotes assault awareness and protective regulations for process servers. Erin’s List has also partnered with ServeManager in order to make safety a priority without interrupting your daily routine.