Friday, February 12, 2016

Garrison America: Healthcare Edition

Growth of Hospital Cops Sparks Debate Over Safety:

Hospitals can be dangerous places. From 2012 to 2014, health care institutions reported a 40 percent increase in violent crime, with more than 10,000 incidents mostly directed at employees, according to a survey by the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety. Assaults linked to gangs, drug dealing and homelessness spill in from the streets, domestic disputes involving hospital personnel play out at work, and disruptive patients lash out. In recent years, dissatisfied relatives even shot two prominent surgeons in Baltimore and near Boston.
Let's pause for a second to acknowledge that the "alarming statistics" they are citing are coming from an agency whose sole purpose is to advocate for more "healthcare security and safety," hardly objective or neutral data.
To protect their corridors, 52 percent of medical centers reported that their security personnel carried handguns and 47 percent said they used Tasers, according to a 2014 national survey, more than double estimates from studies just three years before. Institutions that prohibit them argue that such weapons — and security guards not adequately trained to work in medical settings — add a dangerous element in an already tense environment. They say many other steps can be taken to address problems, particularly with the mentally ill.
And these aren't exactly Paul Blart, Mall Cops either (though most seem to act like it).
Many hospitals say that with proper safeguards — some restrict armed officers to high-risk areas like emergency rooms and parking areas — and supervision, weapons save lives and defuse threatening situations. The Cleveland Clinic, which has placed metal detectors in its emergency room, has its own fully armed police force and hires off-duty officers as well. The University of California medical centers at Irvine and San Diego and small community hospitals are among the more than 200 facilities that use stun guns produced by Taser International, which has courted hospitals as a lucrative new market. 
Which raises the question: since most of these shootings/tasings involve psychiatric patients, aren't the hospitals loaded with enough psychotropic medications to put down the population of a small city, let alone some raving, delusional schizophrenic? 

Does a medical environment, where one ostensibly goes to receive treatment, wellness and healing, really justify a garrison state of armed, moonlighting cops who, exhausted from their normal shifts, are doing this for an extra buck? Or worse, untrained "security guards" who armed anyway? And couldn't we get qualified law enforcement personnel out of this whole sordid hospital security business if we simply paid them more?

You can read the story of Alan Pean in the article, but I'll finish with this sidebar:
A family with Haitian and Mexican roots who settled in McAllen, Tex., the Peans were shocked that Mr. Pean’s effort to get medical aid ended so badly. Though his father, Harold Pean, and a half-dozen other relatives are physicians, they said they had no idea that guns could be used against patients. After watching the nation roiled by the shootings of unarmed black men by police officers over the last year or so, the family now wonders whether race contributed to Alan’s near-fatal encounter.
“We never thought that would happen to us,” Dr. Pean said.
One wonders how often these kinds of shootings/tasings of hospital patients happen when the patient is white.

Nonetheless, the article points to yet another notch in the ever-expanding growth in the garrison state in Garrison America. 

I'm sure Bowles & Jayadev's prediction has already come true: we have more private security Paul Blarts in America today than we do high school teachers. 

And it doesn't matter if they have training or if they are rent-a-cops making $10/hour: unsupervised and unaccountable "security" is more dangerous to public safety than any perceived threat for which they are hired by Big Pharma and Big Medicine. 

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