Office security for a windowless room?
August 21, 2013 3:46 PM   Subscribe

I work in a public defender's office with a dozen lawyers. Four of them are in windowless offices, and two of those offices in particular are buried near the back of the building, where it's hard to hear if you aren't standing outside the door. For the vast majority of clients this isn't an issue, but how can we keep our office safe during closed door meetings with clients?

An obvious idea would be a panic button an attorney could trip if he or she felt unsafe. Most these services are subscription based, and we'd rather avoid the cost if possible. A low-tech solution would be a doorbell that rings to the front office when there's a problem. Does the hivemind have any other suggestions? I'm a pretty big guy and I've never felt unsafe around a client, even those accused of very serious crimes or with significant violent criminal history. But especially in dealing with clients with a previous history of physical or sexual assault, we want to be cautious and make sure the workplace is safe for everyone.
posted by Happydaz to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Best answer: What if you had two wireless doorbells, for redundancy -- and a single ring would entail a casual visit from a co-worker to "drop by" and "give you some papers" -- and a triple ring would entail "call security"?

In addition, you could consider a solution such as Dropcam.
posted by suedehead at 3:53 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could move the furniture so that the desk is between you and the client, and you are sitting closer to the door. You might also avoid meeting clients in isolated rooms and designate a room close to the others that will be used instead.

You might also want to research to see what doctors, psychologists and cops do in these kinds of cases.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:46 PM on August 21, 2013

Thinking about it, I'm not so sure about the desk. I'd want to research it, since the detectives on The First 48 seemed to sit at the adjoining corner.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:51 PM on August 21, 2013

Is there a (windowed) conference room where meetings could be held with clients that anyone feels wary about? That seems like the easiest option, if it's possible
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:14 PM on August 21, 2013

Can the rooms be given doors with windows? Your phone system may very well have an option for someone to listen to the room. (Creepy? yep. when I worked for a phone company they said car sales businesses insisted on this feature.) A panic button should be easy to add to every office.
posted by theora55 at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2013

Best answer: I think the professional name for this sort of thing is a "duress alarm".

In my humble opinion as an industrial safety guy, I would put maintained-contact mushroom-head pushbuttons near the door and on the desk, wired to klaxons and strobes outside the door, which can only be reset by a button outside the door. The sight of a 'EMERGENCY' strobe above the door might prove to be a better deterrent than you'll ever know.

A little quick Googling finds this computer based system out of Australia. At sixty bucks each I wouldn't hesitate.
posted by Kakkerlak at 8:10 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

A deterrent solution - that is, a clear indicator that there IS a security system of this sort, even if it's just a fake light - is a good idea. In addition to an actual system, of course.
posted by Ashlyth at 11:08 PM on August 21, 2013

Wireless doorbell is probably the cheapest solution, as well as super easy to install, no need to call maintenance (assuming here that, as a civil servant, you do not want to go through channels and/or your expense request was denied).
posted by vignettist at 12:11 PM on August 22, 2013

As the possessor of a wireless doorbell, it is finicky and unreliable. I'd at least go top of the line and test a lot.
posted by twiggy32 at 9:08 PM on August 22, 2013

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