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For nearly a decade, ServeNow has been working diligently to raise awareness about process server assault — a danger process servers face each time they attempt a serve. The PAAPRS campaign (Promoting Assault Awareness and Protective Regulations for Servers) was a massive effort to help bring light to the seemingly increasing threat of violence on the job.
While assault against process servers continues to happen, there have been some positive legislative changes that have occurred, with more states moving forward with making an assault against a process server a felony. New York was the most recent state pass this type of legislation protecting process servers. As we continue to raise awareness and support those seeking protective measures for process servers, it is important for process servers to be proactive as possible about preventing violent incidents.
Unfortunately, in most states, process servers are not legally afforded any additional protections despite playing an important role in protecting Fifth Amendment rights and due process.
It’s important to know if your state offers any protection so that in the event that you are assaulted, you know what recourse you might have. You can check your state’s assault laws online. However, Illinois, California, Florida and New York are the only states with laws in place to specifically address assault against process servers, with stiffer penalties for offenders.
Be sure to check in with your local process server association to see if they offer any assistance or additional information about protecting yourself from process server assault. For example, CALSPro offers a checklist online that can help you identify what to do if you have been assaulted while on a serve.
Many process server associations are lobbying for legislation to make an assault on process servers a felony. We’ll keep you updated as legislation changes.
Process server assault training should encompass not only standard self-defense training but observation techniques trained through role-playing scenarios, as well, so that you are well-equipped to pick up on subtle cues that an assailant may give before they act.
Role-playing is often a part of process server assault training. It can help you identify different ways that you can approach a defendant and you can observe different ways to react. Additionally, tips on what you can use to protect yourself and how to protect yourself should be covered. Remember, you cannot control someone else’s behavior, but you can control how you behave. Assault prevention training and self-defense courses can teach you techniques to help you avoid being a victim.
While you may never be able to predict exactly what a violent offender may do, you can certainly be prepared to protect yourself.
There are a number of places that you can go to find process server-specific assault training. First, check with your local process server association to see if they are sponsoring any specific self-defense or assault prevention training events. If you’ve missed an event or don’t see one coming up, keep looking. If your process server association hasn’t hosted an event, it may be an idea to bring up to your board.
Local colleges often host self-defense classes and seminars for which you can register for a nominal fee. Additionally, you may be able to find self-defense classes at Boxing, Karate, Martial Arts or Jiu-Jitsu schools. Conferences or conventions in the civil process service industry may host special seminars aimed at process server assault prevention.
Beyond that check with your local sheriff’s department — you just might be surprised to find that they may offer training.
In West Virginia this past summer, the Harrison County Sheriff’s office provided process servers with assault training. Of the training, Harrison County Sheriff Robert Matheny commented in an article published in The Exponent Telegram, “…it’s very important to me, and it’s very important to them, so I’m glad they’re taking it seriously and learning.”
Serve Now also published a slideshow in which Process Servers Association of Colorado (PSACO) President Steve Glenn outlined how process servers can practice safe serves by being vigilant and practicing situational awareness while on the job, as well as what process servers can do to protect themselves. Our online ServeCon event also featured a seminar on process server safety — although the event has passed, you can still view the archived video.
It’s important to know that unfortunately, you’re not alone — but it is not something that should be widely accepted as commonplace for the field. Process servers should not be afraid to do their jobs or of what could happen while they’re just trying to complete a serve.
Do not be afraid to call 9-1-1 if you are in danger. Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you are hurt, and report the offense to police — if it’s not documented properly, the frequency in which assault occurs is skewed and more importantly, the ability for you to seek justice will be impeded without documentation. It’s important that legislators and local governments realize that this is a problem that must be addressed.
While we may never be able to eliminate the threat of assault, we can be proactive in advocating for the protection of process servers. Join your state’s process server association and encourage them to lobby for your state’s rights. However, don’t just rely on others to make things happen. Do your part in encouraging legislators to take action and protect our people. Share your experiences, tips, and knowledge in online groups dedicated to discussing the industry. Knowledge is power, and together we can work to protect ourselves, our industry and our livelihood.
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