ANDERSON — Nine officers were sworn in Friday morning to form the start-up Community Hospital Anderson Police Department.
Phillip Caldwell, former Elwood police chief, has been the director of security at the hospital. He’ll now serve as chief after pushing for the development of a police department at the hospital for a few years.
In 2014, former Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law that enables hospitals to create their own police departments with full police powers. Some other Indiana hospitals, including Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie and Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, have already established police departments.
“Health care is different than when you are out in the community. So having (officers) dedicated to the kind of business we do and the sensitivity to patients and visitors ... will really provide a much better service to our patients and our families,” said Beth Tharp, CEO of Community Hospital Anderson.
Officers from various community police departments in the county have worked security at Community Hospital Anderson. But those officers would sometimes have to leave the hospital during work hours if an emergency happened in the town or city of their police employment. Caldwell said that such situations could possibly leave the hospital at a security deficit.
The chief noted that CHA officers have experience with community policing, and they’ll receive extra training to emphasize deescalation of situations involving grieving family and people struggling with health conditions.
“(The difference is) you’re a police officer, but you’re more of a community relations and caregiver position,” Caldwell explained. “In a hospital environment, you deal with a lot of emotionally unstable people and also mentally unstable (people). You receive additional training, and it helps nurture that environment.”
In addition to Caldwell, eight officers were sworn in Friday morning: James Robertson, Zach Taylor, Richard Stires, Pat Kane, Steve Christian, Frank Ward, James Brizendine and Cory Grubb. An additional officer, Dylan Downey, will be sworn in Nov. 20.
The hospital police department will be eligible for federal and state funding for training and equipment, Caldwell said.