As we move into the summer of 2021, and what is shaping up to be a post-Covid America, we are seeing some disturbing trends. Violent crime is rising sharply across the United States, and the trend upward is showing no real sign of abatement. In 2020, homicides rose 30% in large cities, and the trend is continuing this year with an additional 24% increase in the number of murders year to date. Law enforcement intelligence groups are predicting this trend upwards continues, and it is not isolated to homicide. In research conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), non-homicide aggravated assault was also up in 2020 by 9.3%. The numbers in 2021 have skyrocketed in comparison, and those numbers show a reality that many people feel and live on a daily basis in our communities.
This trend should be setting off all the warning bells for security professionals, especially if you work in healthcare security. Anything that is happening in society at large will manifest in a hospital at some point. Not only are hospitals not immune, but they are more susceptible. Security leaders should be using this critical rise in violence as an opportunity to educate healthcare executives on the need for resourcing. Too often, I see healthcare leaders look at issues outside the hospital as not relevant to their facility. That is not the case. Violence in the community always tends to end up, at a minimum, in our Emergency Departments. More often than not, it permeates every part of our organization.
As we see the temperature of events rising outside, those issues are only compounded by the decimation of law enforcement agencies across the nation. That means our ability to rely on thier already stretched thin resources to support our own security efforts is that much further diminished. We must start taking full ownership of our needs as we can no longer rely on available supplement from our local law enforcement partners. Moreover, reducing our need for law enforcement support is the best way for us to support local law enforcement as they have enough to do without having to run to our beck and call.
Ultimately, as we forecast our needs for the future, we must start taking a hard look at what kind of security program we are building. Many traditional paradigms no longer serve us well. Traditional observe and report mentalities do not work when police are preoccupied with external criminal issues. We must start building protective forces that are capable of effective engagement in criminal interdiction, that have the capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal offense, that can effectively interrogate threats and mitigate them, and that can truly serve the needs of our organizations no matter what tomorrow may bring.
What are your thoughts? Do you see the rise in violent crime in the community as an issue for your facility? Do you see a need to shift the thinking around how we build effective security teams for healthcare? How are you responding to the diminished capacity of our law enforcement partners? Join the conversation in the comments below, and don’t forget to like, follow and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.
Mike, thank you for such a thought provoking article. I agree that a hospital campus is a microcosm of society. What we see in the community will reflect in the hospital. As you stated, public law enforcement resources are stretched, lacking support, and the effects are evident. Healthcare facilities and other critical infrastructure are, by necessity, going to have to become more self sufficient. As we all are aware, especially in smaller communities, it often takes every public resource to address critical public events. Those events inevitably spill over to the local hospital, and there are no community resources remaining to assist with “phase 2” of the event at the hospital. Hospital Security/Public Safety departments are then left to address the issue alone. Even worse is if they rely on off duty law enforcement for their security, who then gets pulled away to deal with the community event, leaving the hospital even more vulnerable. It is time for us to take a hard look at our internal capabilities to deal with the increasing violence our teams face every day.