Debate Flares on S.F. Cops Doing Hospital Security

San Francisco Chronicle (06/30/11) Gordon, Rachel

San Francisco officials are currently debating whether police officers and sheriff’s deputies should be allowed to provide security at hospitals in the area. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has proposed contracting out security services at local hospitals, and transferring the 71 officers currently working there to positions at clinics, jails, courts, and City Hall in order to save millions of dollars a year. The city employees union is fighting the move, despite the fact that none of the workers would lose their jobs. The union objects to any attempt to bring private security companies into city jobs, and has threatened to use their influence in favor of Lee’s potential rivals in the upcoming Mayor race. The Board of Supervisors’ Budget Committee is scheduled to decide if the proposal to hire private security for hospitals will be included in the final budget to be sent to the full board for consideration. Another possible proposal would create a hybrid security team that includes a mix of private and public workers. Advocates for privatizing hospital security say that the proposal is not just about money. Sheriff’s deputies working in hospitals are not empowered to intervene in patient disputes unless the patient is deemed a threat or is acting illegally. Private guards, on the other hand, do not have such restrictions and may be able to provide more active assistance to hospital staff. Any guards brought in will be certified in prevention of workplace violence, be specially trained to work in a hospital, and have had experience working in a health care setting.

Thoughts anyone …?

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