Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Editor’s note: This article was written by Torri Schaffer of Torri’s Legal Services. The opinions expressed here belong to Torri Schaffer.
The 2020 election has been contentious all around, from the top of the ballot all the way to the bottom. Families are fighting, friends have gone their separate ways, and the online comments sections are a tinderbox.
For your safety and the safety of the people you serve, it’s essential that you keep the politics out of your service of process, especially during an election year.
Here are four tips for safe serving in these politically charged times:
You may not have to abide by a specific dress code while you’re out in the field serving, but that doesn’t mean you can just wear anything out of your closet. If you’re out in the field, it’s important that whatever you wear is free from any sort of politicall affiliation.
Avoid shirts, hats, or buttons that reference specific candidates, political parties, or issues. This extends to any images or slogans that can be considered connected to a political opinion or issue.
While these clothing items may be a great way to show your support and strike up a conversation in your everyday life, it’s unprofessional to put forth your personal views on the job and can be dangerous if you come into contact with the wrong person.
Just as you shouldn’t be a walking billboard for your chosen candidate, party, or issue, your car shouldn’t broadcast your views on these matters either.
Keep your windows clear of any signs or banners for political candidates and avoid adding bumper stickers to your car. Also, make sure that any folders or clipboards you carry with you up to the door don’t have political stickers on them.
It can be tempting to comment on the sign in someone’s yard, especially if it’s for a person or cause you support. However, by starting this conversation, you immediately cross a line from professional into personal.
The same goes for any discussions you may have with a person you’re serving. Don’t talk politics or the election and don’t make comments on any political or issue-related clothing items they may be wearing. Not only does this type of a conversation cross the line when you’re on the job, but it also can put you at risk.
Say, for example, you’re serving to a house with divided political preferences. You notice a political sign outside the home and decide to comment on it to the person who answers the door. If that person is on the other side of the candidate or issue you’re commenting on, this could ignite that person’s temper and, especially since you’re doing delicate work that can heighten an individual’s emotions, it could put you in a dangerous position.
In addition, if the person you’re serving feels the need to try to strike up a conversation with you about their political views, avoid the urge to engage. Instead, wish them a good day and walk away.
As a process server, you always have to be aware of your surroundings when you’re serving papers. With protests and rallies springing up around the country, that’s an even more important thing to keep in mind as you drive.
Keep your eyes open and, if you see large crowds of people, try to find an alternate route to your destination.
If the person you’re serving is located smack in the midst of a protest or other gathering, consider returning at a different time of day or on another day entirely if your schedule allows for it. If you don’t have any flexibility in your service schedule, seek the help of law enforcement or event organizers to help you reach your destination.
No matter what, trusting your instincts and erring on the side of caution when serving papers is crucial to keeping everyone safe while you do your job. If something doesn’t feel right, stay away and call in backup. It’s not worth a quick service to put your safety at risk!
Torri Schaffer started Torri’s Legal Services (TLS) in 1990. Over the years, she built a successful, thriving company providing process serving nationwide from her company’s headquarters in the Washington, DC area. Torri is dedicated to excellence and is committed to continuously maintaining and expanding her and her company’s knowledge of process serving regulations (of which there are many, and they vary by jurisdiction), and skip tracing techniques. She and her staff attend seminars and events to remain well-informed of the different laws and regulations nationwide.