Inmate Protocol in Hospitals: Tips for Law Enforcement
Tips for Law Enforcement When Bringing Inmates into Hospitals
At any given time there are prisoners in a hospital and unfortunately, healthcare facilities are not usually well equipped for their presence. There are many reasons why an inmate might be in a hospital, they could need forensics done, or perhaps they got injured, or became severely ill. No matter what the reason, it is important for hospital staff to be prepared for their arrival and know that law enforcement will properly do their job. As a member of law enforcement, it is imperative for you to keep staff and visitors safe while maintaining control of the inmate. Remember these 5 tips to keep the public safe when dealing with prisoners in healthcare facilities.
1. Call Ahead
Your first step should be to call ahead. This includes a call to both the emergency department and the security department. You will need the help and compliance of both to maintain security.
When calling, be very clear on identifying your needs. Explain that you need a security personnel, a wheelchair or gurney, a clear route, as little wait time as possible, etc. Hospital staff are not heavily trained in this aspect so they are taking direction from you, the law enforcement personnel. The publics safety is in your hands, not the hospitals.
2. Predetermine Access
When you call ahead, ensure that you have a secure access point to use as an ingress. Typically, an ambulance bay works well, although you may need to park closely and transport the prisoner through the bay as not to cause congestion for emergency vehicles. Ambulance bays tend to be the best option because they are restricted to the public and they have a predetermined route to the emergency department. A predetermined access is critical to security upon arrival. Your law enforcement agency may even have an access point mapped, but ensure when calling ahead that this access is available for use, if not, work with hospital security to determine a safe point.
3. Wheeled & Concealed Transport
When transporting a prisoner through a public area such as a healthcare facility, it is important to keep the fear and security managed. When you arrive, a security member should meet you with either a wheelchair or gurney (whichever you request), if a wheelchair is available, ensure that you use an extra set of handcuffs to detain to an unmovable part of the wheelchair. When making your way through the hospital, the law enforcement officer should push the inmate in order to maintain control and a security guard should lead in front, giving access to areas and to keep the public away.
When transporting a prisoner through a healthcare facility, make some efforts to conceal handcuffs and shackles. This not only minimizes inmate embarrassment and maintains their dignity, but it also goes a long way in easing public concern.
4. Maintain Custody
As a law enforcement officer, you know how crucial it is to maintain custody at all times, if a prisoner gets out of custody, the consequences could be deadly. When medical professionals are working on a prisoner, they may ask for handcuffs to be removed, be aware. Always ask if there is an alternative to removing handcuffs or shackles, if they say no, ask for proper documentation. When it is not possible to maintain custody, ask for back up (either from security or from your precinct), keep eyes on the individual at all times, and if possible, do so in isolation.
It is essential for everyone’s safety and the security of the facility to utilize isolation when possible. Some healthcare facilities have full isolation rooms, which is the ideal solution, in other instances, facilities have modified rooms that can be utilized as isolation areas. By isolating the prisoner, public safety is more easily maintained. When you call ahead, explain that you will wait in the car until isolation is available and that you need to stay out of waiting areas for the safety of the public. They will understand and appreciate your dedication to everyone’s safety.
When bringing an inmate into a public area, it is essential to maintain security of the individual and safety of those around. Law enforcement have a big task to do this, especially in an area that is not equipped to provide the most secure options. By remembering these steps, safety and security for inmates in healthcare facilities can become a less daunting task for police.