The growing problem of violence in hospitals has led some organizations to form their own police departments.
For instance, at Indiana University Health La Porte Hospital this week, five officers were sworn in, with two more set to be sworn in later in the week and the facility's nine other security officers to train for the department over the next two years, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana. Unlike the hospital's security personnel, members of the department will have power of arrest on hospital grounds and within the community. Hospital leaders hope it will improve safety to eliminate the step of having to wait for local police to arrive to make arrests. Moreover, it will free up the local police to attend to matters elsewhere in the community, Superintendent of Police and Emergency Management Mike Struble said.
Also in Indiana, Parkview Hospital swore in 19 new officers last September after eight weeks of training with the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy; the hospital eventually foresees nearly two dozen officers patrolling the entire system, according to WANE.
Similarly, Memorial Hospital of South Bend formed its own police department last August after a 2013 law made Indiana the 29th state to legalize hospitals forming their own police units, according to Fox 28. Its formation was prompted not by specific events but by the opportunity the new law represented, according to Chief of Police Daniel Rutledge.
Indiana is not the only state where hospitals have taken this step; Adena Regional Medical Center in Ohio created a police department last November, according to the Chillicothe Gazette. The department will prioritize any criminal activity that takes place on hospital grounds, while the security team focuses on operational issues such as safety or rule violations, Chief Robert Coburn, a former police officer and sheriff's deputy, told the Gazette.
In addition to several high-profile violent incidents in hospitals last year, this year has already seen several incidents unfold, including a standoff in Texas' Tomball Regional Hospital, according to ABC13, and a man in Camden County, New Jersey, who shot his ex-girlfriend before turning the gun on himself outside the hospital emergency room to which they were taken, according to NBC News.