What began on a small scale has turned into a significant community partnership between the ISU police department and Mary Greeley Medical Center. In June, the two organizations entered into an agreement for the department to provide 24/7 security at the hospital.
"It started in 2018 doing about 80 hours a week with a police officer there mostly during evening hours," said associate vice president and chief of police Michael Newton. "Unfortunately, violence in the health care setting has increased over the last decade."
The police department provides one officer -- usually a public safety officer -- for each of three eight-hour shifts, and the hospital covers the cost of round-the-clock security. The officer's primary responsibility is to ensure safety of employees and patients in the emergency department, but several other tasks will be developed in the months ahead. They include:
- Completing safety checks around the hospital's internal and external spaces.
- Assisting with combative patients.
- Participating in various safety and security trainings.
- Answering questions from hospital staff and dealing with parking issues.
"Mary Greeley is a safe place, but medical facilities throughout the country are seeing more incidents of violence. Having trained Iowa State officers at the hospital provides another level of security that is much appreciated by our staff, patients and visitors," said Dieter Friton, director of Emergency Services and Mobile Intensive Care Services for the medical center.
The agreement also allows hospital employees to use the Iowa State Safe mobile app. It's customized for them but retains many of the same features, such as monitored walks to their vehicle, Newton said.
Newton said he is in the process of hiring more public safety officers to supplement the five currently on staff as they continue their duties across campus. Using public safety officers allows police officers to focus on other duties and is one of the primary reasons ISU is better suited for the service than Ames police officers.
Newton hopes to have eight safety officers and a supervisor, who will oversee them, to fulfill duties on campus and at the hospital. The public safety officer program began last fall and already saw one of its members become an ISU police officer.
"We hope this will give our public safety officers experience with de-escalation and working and talking with people," Newton said. "Many of them want to be police officers in the future, so we see this as a way for them to build their skillset."
Newton said having an officer at the hospital full time is important because so many students, faculty and staff use Mary Greeley or take part in internships there.
"Mary Greeley is a huge part of our community, and having a safe environment when you are a patient or for the staff is key," Newton said. "This is a step forward and we are building community at the same time."