On the second floor of the gleaming San Bernardino County building, cubicles are empty, boxes are stacked and a few photos and kids’ art are still tacked to bulletin boards.
“Coming through here was a tough thing,” says David Wert, the county’s public information officer, while walking through a row of abandoned desks.
On a white board is someone’s daily to-do list under the handwritten date of Dec. 2, 2015.
Employees of Environmental Health Services have not been back here since that day, when they left for a training session and holiday lunch at the nearby Inland Regional Center. Thirteen department workers died when Syed Rizwan Farook, a co-worker, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, stormed in shooting. Another victim, not a county employee, also died. Twenty-two people were injured and many more were traumatized.
In the months since, about half of the 71 people who attended the training have returned to work and more trickle back every day.
But they have not returned to this space, the office they shared with the victims and one of the shooters. Before anyone comes back here, the county is planning a full and total renovation.
“Change the paint, change the carpeting, get rid of all this furniture, put in new cubicles,” Wert says. “Pretty much make everything as new and as different as possible so that it doesn’t look, smell or feel like it did before.”
What to do with this work area is one of hundreds of decisions that county leaders were confronted with in the wake of the shooting.
“There is precious little information out there and there is no playbook,” says County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux.