St. Luke’s considers hiring Columbus officers

Published 3:04 pm Thursday, January 24, 2013

St. Luke’s Hospital has asked the Town of Columbus to hire two police officers to staff the hospital at night.

Columbus Town Council met Jan. 17 and approved the town working with the hospital on an agreement with the hospital after hearing from St. Luke’s CEO Ken Shull.

Shull says with changes in the world his employees would feel more comfortable with armed officers at the hospital.

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The hospital currently has two security guards on staff but they are unarmed. Shull said the two guards have done a great job and this is nothing against them but it’s time to have armed officers at the hospital.

Shull said with the hospital’s great relationship with the town and St. Luke’s being within town limits, it makes sense to go through Columbus to hire the officers. He also said if there are going to be weapons at the hospital, he’d prefer the officers be trained, sworn officers.

“We think uniformed officers will have a calming effect,” Shull said.

Initially, the hospital wants to staff two officers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The staffing would mean one officer on duty per night.

Columbus town council unanimously agreed for the town to work with the hospital on an agreement which town manager Jonathan Kanipe said will take a few months to complete. Both the town and the hospital will have to approve the agreement before it is implemented.

“In the initial discussion, town staff made clear that it was our belief council would consider this only if it were a net-zero cost to the town,” Kanipe said. “In other words, the town would not spend any tax payer funds to staff these positions at the hospital, and there would be no loss of regular service to our citizens by having officers removed from the street for this duty.”

Shull said he thinks the hiring of officers will help the hospital and the town. He said the hospital will work it out where it doesn’t cost the town anything and the town may be able to hire more officers. Shull said the hospital plans to pay for the officers’ salaries, benefits, uniforms and training among other costs that may be related.