When you enter a public place, like a hospital or mall, you are entrusting your security to that entity. Sometimes that trust can be misplaced.
The San Francisco Examiner reports that some security duties at San Francisco General Hospital are carried out by civilians who are only required to take an introductory, weeklong course in law enforcement, not the highly technical training that sheriff’s deputies receive, according to hospital records obtained by the newspaper.
The Examiner reports sheriff’s deputies do much of the patrol duties at the hospital, but those tasks are also carried out by “institutional police officers,” or IPOs, who are not certified peace officers, according to the Sheriff’s Department. During one recent two-week period, IPOs worked 17 percent of patrol shifts at S.F. General, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Other duties are carried out by Sheriff’s Department cadets who are also civilian employees.
Recent revelations detailing a series of mistakes concerning a missing patient and the later discovery of her body has raised questions about the effectiveness of all hospital security staff, including IPOs. The lawyer representing the patient’s family told the Examiner the fact that these undertrained security staff members could have contributed to the breakdown is disturbing.
The Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have much confidence in IPOs, at least in terms of their future. When the IPOs retire or leave their jobs, the Sheriff’s Department has and will continue to fill the positions with deputies, according to the Examiner.
Unlike deputies or police officers, IPOs are not certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, the Examiner reports. But they do carry firearms and can make arrests while on duty as “limited-function peace officers.” The training required to become an IPO is limited to a 40-hour introductory policing course.
Being a security officer is not an easy job. One has to balance being friendly and helpful to the public while being alert to dangers and appropriately responding to them. This is an example of the City of San Francisco trying to save money by not having the most trained people holding very important jobs (which include carrying firearms and the ability to arrest people).
Hospitals are responsible for the safety and well being of their employees, patients and visitors. They are places that reflect our too often violent society. According to estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,637 nonfatal assaults on hospital workers occurred in 1999, a rate of 8.3 assaults per 10,000 workers. This rate is more than four time higher than the rate of nonfatal assaults for all private-sector industries, which is two per 10,000 workers.
Without proper training security officers may over react to a situation and harm someone without good cause or not do enough and allow someone to fall victim to a crime (in this instance, a patient disappeared and was later found dead, the exact circumstances are unknown).
If you or a loved one have been injured due to the poor security of a business or organization, contact our office for a free consultation. Organizations and institutions need to held accountable for the security, or lack thereof, they provide.
The personal injury attorneys at the Weber & Nierenberg law firm are well-experienced in premises liability cases, automobile accident cases, including those involving wrongful death, as well as motorcycle, bus, truck, and pedestrian accident cases, and will work hard and competently to obtain complete compensation for your injuries and losses.