Friday, September 14, 2018
There is inherent danger in the work we do every day and sometimes our customers take situations to the extreme.This recently happened in Fort Edwards where a National Grid Local 97 member was severely beaten for just doing her job. For decades our union has fought to institute safety measures that will make our jobs safer. While we can't always control what the public does, we can have a say in the consequences of their actions. Because of the work of IBEW Local 97 and the Utility Labor Council of New York State, the assailant is not just facing simple assault charges.
Since 2016, an attack on a Utility Worker is now a felony charge that carries a sentence of up to 11 years in state prison if convicted.
It is never okay to assault someone for doing their job, and this law takes a needed step to protect our workforce by making people think twice before taking such action against our members.
National Grid Worker Attacked
A National Grid worker was assaulted Tuesday morning by the resident of a Broadway home who attacked her as she went to the home to turn off electricity, police said.
The worker suffered facial injuries when she was tackled from behind and punched by Patricia Lafferty, 25, who had argued with the employee moments before the attack.
Fort Edward Police Sgt. Dean Watkins said the National Grid employee suffered "serious" facial injuries that required a trip to Glens Falls Hospital, but he believed she had been released as of Wednesday morning.
National Grid spokesman Nathan Stone said the worker suffered "pretty serious facial lacerations" and it was unclear when she would return to work.
The worker had gone to the home to turn off electricity around 8 a.m. for an unspecified reason when Lafferty became angry with her and argued with her, Watkins said. The employee turned off the power and was leaving when she was attacked and knocked to the ground, he explained.
Lafferty was charged with felony counts of assault and unlawful imprisonment, the assault count elevated to a felony because the victim, as a utility worker, was a "public employee." Under state law, it is felony unlawful imprisonment when a person "restrains another person under circumstances which expose the latter to a risk of serious physical injury."
Watkins said Lafferty fled the area on foot after the confrontation and later got a ride out of the village, but turned herself in at the Washington County Sheriff's office station in Fort Edward later Tuesday morning.
She was arraigned and sent to Washington County Jail for lack of bail.
Stone said attacks on utility employees are rare, but serious.
"We get some yelling and screaming, but generally they don't go after our people," he said.
He said he could not disclose the resident's billing situation that led to the shutoff, but said the payment plans and other arrangements are made to try to avoid a shutoff of service.
"If they stop paying, we have to terminate service at some point," he said.
The charges are punishable by up to 11 years in state prison, if sentences were run consecutively.
Watkins handled the case, assisted by Hudson Falls Police.