Utility companies train their workers for the hazards that go with their jobs. But they can’t train them for things the public might do to them. Those workers are asking the legislature for additional protection.
One of them is Jeremy Sitton who was in a utility bucket working on a line near the intersection of I-55 and Highway 61 in southeast Missouri after an ice storm a couple of years ago. A “normal, everyday, nothing was going to go wrong job,” he says. Then a pickup truck pulled up and the driver got out with a shotgun and started shooting.
Police used the description from Sitton’s co-worker to track down the shooter, who killed himself before he could be arrested.
Representatives of other utility companies tell of workers being threatened by armed citizens when they go to disconnect a service. Meter readers have been locked into basements for hours. A tree trimmer has been shot at.
A proposal to add utility workers to assault laws protecting law enforcement and corrections personnel, first responders, probation and parole officers, and highway workers in construction zones is before a House committee, waiting to be sent to the House for debate.
AUDIO: Committee Hearing 40 min