Every healthcare facility faces the question of “how do we best protect our people, patients, guests and institution?” But very few have the option – because of proximity, funding, or type of facility – to rely on local police or their own police force to secure their facility. The main difference between a hospital police officer and a hospital security officer is not who they are, but what they carry and the power to arrest.
Both can apply force and restraint to a non-compliant individual who is threatening others. Only a police officer can take an individual into custody; a security officer can handcuff to abate the threat and must remove restraints when the threat is mitigated or law enforcement takes the individual into custody.
Given this difference, the advantage of using police may be slim, when they will not be solely dedicated to the facility (as Tom Smith noted). When a security officer is well-trained and properly equipped with de-escalating tools to deal with the range of encounters – from distraught patients and family members to mentally ill patients – facilities are far more likely to see a drop in violent encounters without ever having to summon law enforcement. Merely the show of an audio/video recorder can reduce bad behavior substantially – both in the officer and the perpetrator.unction law enforcement officers provide that a properly trained and equipped security officer cannot: the power to arrest.
For the marginal gain that is offered by using a police force to protect a hospital, a well-prepared security officer is a better long-term investment from a risk perspective.
Guardian 8 is sponsoring a series of calls with healthcare regulatory agencies to clarify how hospital-based security guidelines provided by these agencies affect the implementation of a non-lethal security program. You can download transcripts or listen to these recorded calls as well as request an invitation to participate in future calls.