Following the deadly Western Psych shooting in March and the recent abduction of a newborn from Magee Womens Hospital, the Allegheny County District Attorney is recommending police patrols be added inside of UPMC medical facilities.
“One of the most important considerations is the presence of a uniformed police officer,” said Zappala, “just to refresh the public’s memory, it took about 5 minutes and a little over 15 seconds for police to arrive on scene [at the Western Psych shooting] and the movement of the shooter was pretty much unlimited until that time.”
Zappala is also recommending changes in building access, use of metal detectors and surveillance cameras. The cameras, he said, would allow law enforcement to know the movements of an attacker and lock down portions of buildings appropriately. Zappala added, with 11 facilities in the county handling mental health referrals, having law enforcement on-site would be beneficial.
“We routinely hear about assaults and those types of matters. Anytime we have a critical incident, we decided from law enforcement that if we work a little differently we think we could do a better job and better protect persons in these types of workplaces,” he said.
Meantime, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is considering forming its own police department in the wake of the Western Psych shooting. Officials haven’t released the specifics of the plan, but Zappala said he will meet with them next week to discuss it.