Process serving is no joke. This line of work can be extremely rewarding, but also very dangerous. Dr. John Patrick Keefe II, a process server in Oklahoma City, has run into his fair share of bumps in the road of serving court documents. If you aren’t always alert and on your toes, you can run into some unsavory situations. This article is going to help you forgo all of that nonsense.
Serve When the Recipient is by Themselves
Let’s face it; people aren’t being served with papers that contain good news. In situations like these, some individuals can become enraged when served. When a spouse or other friends and family members are present, this can exacerbate the emotions of anger, tenfold. An example of a process serve gone wrong is the case of the 2008 death of Steve Allen. The recipient was served divorce papers when his wife and children were present. This caused the recipient to attack Allen, taking his life as well as attacking his family. Try serving the documents in a place where an incident is less likely to occur such as the place of employment.
Have an Exit Plan in Place
Never go into a building, domicile, or area to serve court papers without first knowing the way out. If you go into an office building or business, you will have better make damn sure your path to the door or emergency exit is clear, available, and easily accessible in the event you are confronted by an angry recipient. It’s a good idea to know where the exits are before approaching any house. Never park in a driveway or alley where your car can be boxed in by the recipient’s vehicle.
Listen to Your Gut
Your instincts can go a long way in keeping you safe, especially if they are telling you that you’re about to head into a bad situation. Let your gut be your guide to prevent walking into an ugly, chaotic problem. If you are about to enter a place that makes you pause before you go in, turn around, and leave. Take it as a sign that you are not supposed to be there at that time. If you absolutely must go in, make sure your cell phone is on your person with 911 on the dial screen. Never, ever turn your back on someone that you have just served. If you are serving a restraining order or other emotionally charged document, do not be embarrassed to ask law enforcement to come with you.
Keep an Eye Out for Dogs
Every day, people are bitten by dogs. Don’t be one of these people. If you spot a “Beware the Dog,” sign, adhere to it. Always look for other less obvious clues that a dog is on the premises should there not be a sign. These can include a barking dog, toys, a dog house, and a leash.
Be Polite, Professional, and Respectful
Chances are, if you’re nice to them, they’re going to be nice to you. Do not act high and mighty or rude when serving people with papers. Carry your identification, introduce yourself, and remind those that you serve that you are simply the messenger, and you’re just doing your job.