Police on psych unit

  1. I am looking for information related to allowing police onto the psych unit with their weapons. What are you all doing? Also if there is any relavent research out there. Thanks for helping as we explore this.
  2. Visit diawc profile page

    About diawc

    Joined: Nov '06; Posts: 36; Likes: 49
    Specialty: 15 year(s) of experience in OB, ER, ICU, Supervision, SANE


  3. by   elkpark
    I've never worked anywhere (in a psych nsg. career of 25 years and counting) where police were allowed to bring their weapons on the unit. In different facilities at which I've worked, they've had to lock them in the trunk of their car before they came into the building, check them in to security or lock them up in the ED before they came any further into the hospital, or there's been a lockbox in the wall outside the door to the psych unit.

    I don't know about any published research, but I've never heard of a facility or unit being willing to have guns on the unit, even on a police officer's person, even briefly -- and I would not be willing to work in a setting that did allow it.
  4. by   Davey Do
    What an interesting question, diawc! And, what a good response from elkpark. Weapons on a Psych Unit. Potentially hazardous situation.

    You know, it makes me think. I want to give you a response before I discuss this topic with any of my colleagues, so my answer is fresh and off the top of my head.

    Back in the '80's, I worked on an unlocked Psych Unit. (I wonder if unlocked Psych Units still exist?) The County Police would transport the unmanageable patients to the State Mental Hospital. I remember the County Police wearing their weapons on the Unit.

    In the 90's, I worked at the State Mental Hospital. The Local, County, and State Police would all transport Patients to the Facility. They all wore their weapons. However, the Police did not specifically go on the Units. They accompanied the Patient to the Admission area.

    In the early 'aughts, I heard of one circumstance where the police were actually summoned to a locked Psych Unit. An RN contacted the Local Police, during her MN Shift, in an attempt to establish order. She believed, under the circumstances, that the action she chose was the best course to take. Interesting situation. But, I don't know if the responding officers wore their weapons on the Unit or not. I'm gonna hafta find out.

    I'll let you know. Until then, I'm gonna follow this interesting discussion.


    Last edit by Davey Do on Aug 23, '10
  5. by   mtdnk
    I work in a psych ER. We have a lockbox that we require all guns to be placed regardless if the police are in the ER or going to the units.
  6. by   rn/writer
    When I worked psych, no weapons were allowed on the units. I can maybe see a use for a Taser, but not for guns. Heaven forbid an officer would be overpowered and lose a weapon to a patient.
  7. by   chevyv
    No weapons allowed on the unit where I work either. Can you imagine a pt getting hold of a police officers gun!? Scarrrrry!!!
  8. by   ImThatGuy
    Quote from diawc
    I am looking for information related to allowing police onto the psych unit with their weapons. What are you all doing? Also if there is any relavent research out there. Thanks for helping as we explore this.
    Well, if this were always the case it would have totally messed up the scene from Terminator 2.
  9. by   ImThatGuy
    Note: nothing below is meant to offend. It's simply insight pertaining to the subject matter of this thread.

    First, there's a misconception here about holsters. Not all holsters allow someone to remove the gun other than a trained individual. Some officers don't use them. Prepared officers do. There are holsters you could bolt to the ceiling, place the pistol in it, and then hang from the handle of the weapon without it coming out. End of that topic.

    Second, contact the departments likely to visit your facility and have something in writing with command. We'll cooperate.

    Third, never demand an officer surrender his weapon without the above. It's an insult and often unlikely to happen without a superior officer instructing him to.

    We're used to securing them for correctional facilities so going into a psych unit with a gun shouldn't be an issue. Try having a sign though so an officer knows ahead of time. If an out of town officer came to pick up someone then him or her seeing the sign would serve adequate notice. Popping out from behind a desk shouting "you can't bring your gun in here" isn't a pleasant experience for either party involved. I've only been in a true psych unit as a paramedic and not an officer. I have had a security guard at a hospital tell me in uniform that I couldn't carry my weapon inside. I simply said, "as a matter of fact I can" and shouldered past him. It's part of the law enforcement sub-culture. No one takes our weapon. It's a sensitive and personal topic.

    Some correctional facilities even require that officers secure their spare magazines (ammunition) as well as batons and so forth before entering.
  10. by   jacquern1
    The use of weapons of any kind on an inpatient psychiatric unit seems a bit counter-intuitive to the work of psychiatry. These are patients, not criminals and their behavior is part of their illness. A show of force and assistance to physically subdue a patient when other means fail are acceptable means of managing these patients but how can the use of any weapon be justified for in-patient psychiatry? CPI and CIT training are examples of training for mental health staff and police used for the management of behaviors. Medication management, close monitoring for escalating behaviors, and de-escalation are all tools of the mental health trade. Physically holding a patient down is sometimes needed to give them their medications over refusal (when allowed by court order) but ignoring the fact that their behavior is part of a disease process and resorting to treating them like criminals rather than using proven methods seems wrong.
  11. by   Whispera
    I've worked in three psych facilities. In all three there were lock boxes outside the units where police were expected to leave their weapons.

    In one facility, while police weren't allowed guns, theoretically, hospital security could bring their guns. They were well trained and their holsters were secured. Police were seldom called in this facility

    In another facility, hospital security was very feeble and slow-moving. They weren't helpful in an emergency. Police were called there, often. When I was there, when they came, I was too busy to notice if they had guns with them or not.

    I agree that our patients, almost all of them, are ill, and to have them be approached with a gun isn't therapeutic. However, some patients are also impulsive and can be dangerous because they have had a rough life and aggression is their way of handling stress. Some are there because they need a bed, and their illnesses have nothing to do with how they respond to other people. Some are just plain dangerous people (nothing to do with a mental illness) and they act out. Some are even hiding from the police. We have a responsibility to maintain the safety of the unit, all patients, and ourselves.
  12. by   kalycat
    Back in the day (within the past 10 years) there was a policy at the state hospital where I worked that if a patient assaulted staff badly enough, charges could be filed and the patient taken in to police custody to be processed. It was a rather unpopular policy since after arrest, arraignment, and what have you, the patient would end up back on one of the units since we were the last stop in our region, so to speak. That said, if there was a continuing history of assault and battery of staff the patient would eventually go to the forensic unit.

    I was involved in several such cases. The security team and several trained staff escorted the patient to the Sally port, where the patient was then taken in to custody. The officers had their weapons, but they never entered the unit. Thinking back though, in such a large facility, it could be a potential hazard. It has been a few years since I've followed up with friends from the place, so I'm not sure what the policy is now. A similar process was followed when patients where transported to the facility and admitted. Every effort was made to isolate the officer and new patient from the rest of the unit until admission and processing was complete, and there were locked sub-units and admitting rooms for this purpose.

    Edited because I'm clearly having some sort of compulsive comma usage issue. And I can't spell.
    Last edit by kalycat on Sep 8, '15
  13. by   vintagemother
    Quote from diawc
    I am looking for information related to allowing police onto the psych unit with their weapons. What are you all doing? Also if there is any relavent research out there. Thanks for helping as we explore this.
    In my facility, the protocol/policy was that we, staff, never were to call police.

    The reason, as was explained to me by administration, is because police rules are different from our rules. And theirs supersede. They told of an incident when a pt was being particularly aggressive and had assaulted a staff member. Pt would not cease the aggression, therefore police were notified. They came with guns and tasers. Staff was told by the police that they could not disarm themselves if they were called and let into the building. I was told it was heart wrenching to watch the pt get tasered.

    Therefore, policy was to only make a police report if the pt initiated it, as is their right if they were assaulted.

    Staff would then escort the pt to the police car outside of the building.

    Sorry, don't know about relevant research, this is just what I learned at work.