Reid Health Establishes Police Force

Reid Health Establishes Police Force

From left: Dennis Perkins, Randy Kolentus and Jeff Cappa.

To enhance the security and safety of Reid Health patients, visitors, staff and the community members who use services daily, the health system will begin transitioning its Security Department this month to a state-recognized police department – just as many other health systems in the state have done in the last few years.

“With the growth of Reid Health and the accompanying increases in the need for police assistance, this move will result in increased safety for everyone and help reduce the burden on regional law enforcement agencies,” said Randy Kolentus, Director of Reid Health’s Security Services. As an example, he said, the Richmond Police Department responded to Reid facilities almost 900 times in 2018.

Becoming a police force will result in increased training and certifications for the 25-member security team in Richmond and Connersville. It will also provide officers arrest authority, allow them to deal more effectively with an increasing number of potentially violent incidents, and create what will ultimately be the third largest police force in the county, behind the Richmond Police Department and Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.

“The safety of our patients, visitors and staff is foremost in this effort,” said Craig Kinyon, Reid Health President/CEO. “This will also benefit other agencies that will not have to expend as many of their resources and officers’ time with situations that arise on our campuses.”

Kolentus also noted violence against physicians and other care providers has increased in recent years, including some where employees were injured in the process of providing patient care. “The threat is real. Reid will not tolerate verbal or physical abuse of its care providers and staff. Having our team designated police officers will give them more flexibility in dealing with these issues, including the option to arrest.”

The needs and changes are directly reflected in the growth of Reid Health and the Security Services team, from Kolentus and nine officers in 2016 to more than twice that today. “We started comparing the workload and types of issues Security was facing, and the safety factor for all staff. We looked at national healthcare trends, local crime stats and even the amount of square footage we needed to cover.” He said the move to arm officers was made in 2013 after noting increases in random active shootings in the nation, “and our Security could not protect against a situation like that.”

Area police agencies fully support the plan.

James Branum, Chief of Police for Richmond, said he strongly supported the Reid Health Security team to take “this natural step.” He said having officers on the scene at all times will help alleviate some of his department’s call load, especially in the evenings. He also noted the hospital “has the perfect foundation” in its staff.

The department director and five experienced former officers have a combined 169 years of experience in law enforcement. The team includes:

  • Randy Kolentus, Director, retired after more than 28 years with Richmond Police Department before joining Reid Health in 2006. He brought patrol, detective and management experience. He is certified by the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) as a training officer and firearms instructor.
  • Jeff Cappa, Security Manager, Richmond, brought 38 years of law enforcement experience when he joined Reid Health after serving two terms as Wayne County Sheriff starting in 2010. He was Indiana Sheriff of the Year in 2013. He also served eight years as chief deputy, with experience in various roles at that department.
  • Dennis Perkins, Security Manager, Connersville, served on the Connersville Police Department 20 years and is also a certified instructor with the ILEA. He was head of security for Fayette Regional when he transitioned to Reid Health last year.
  • Six staffers who are retired officers, and ten who came from jail or prison settings. Four currently serve as reserve police officers.

Current Wayne County Sheriff Randy Retter also supports the change. “In the wake of recent incidents in our community and throughout our nation, the need to provide this immediate resource has never been more apparent. Having a police agency onsite provides your patients, their loved ones and your staff this service without the need to organize an outside resource or experience delay.”

Joey Laughlin, Fayette County Sheriff, said he fully supports Reid forming a police force. “Having full-fledged, ILEA Academy trained police officers would be a great asset to local law enforcement,” he said. “I believe the right leadership is in place to establish this department.” Randy Bolos, Connersville Police Chief, echoed the support, noting how it would help reduce calls to his department and speed up investigations and response time for all in the community. “I appreciate the opportunity to increase police protection in our community.”

Perkins expects the change to improve safety for the somewhat spread out facilities in Connersville. “This will be a great enhancement to our partnership with other agencies in Fayette County, which are not as large as our counterparts in Richmond,” he said.

An Indiana statute originally adopted in 2013 created the groundwork for hospitals to create their own police department, and many in the state have done so, including in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and South Bend.

Also expressing support for the change was Michael Shipman, Wayne County’s Prosecuting Attorney. He said it will benefit Reid Health and area law enforcement. “Allowing Reid Health to handle some criminal matters will allow RPD officers to focus on other criminal investigations.”

Indiana University, including its IU East campus, already has the police force designation. “We currently have a close working relationship with your security office due to the close proximity of the hospital and the IU East campus,” said Benjamin Hunter, associate vice president/superintendent of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance for IU campuses.

Kolentus said Reid’s force can in the future work in agreement with IU East’s officers to back each other up in emergency situations. “Our designation as a police force will strengthen our partnership with mutual benefits.” He said the decision to become a police force was researched and evaluated extensively. “This is the right time and decision,” he said.

The Reid Health Governing Board approved establishing the health system police department on Jan. 27. With the designation, a portion of already trained and certified team members will become official police officers. Kolentus said it would take two to three years to complete the transition and training of the entire team, noting that police academy training classes are limited in size.

Jennifer Ehlers, Reid Health Vice President/Chief Quality Officer, is the administrator over Security Services. “I have the utmost confidence in our expert team and in what this important step forward will do to enhance the safety on our main campus and numerous other locations,” she said. “We can never let up on constant efforts to make our facilities as safe as possible on behalf of the thousands who come through our doors each year.”

Reid Health has taken other steps to increase security, including requiring visitor passes and IDs after 9 p.m. through 5 a.m. for essential visitors and family members. Kolentus noted that when it was established in 2018, almost 12,000 people came through after hours – in 2019, that number dropped to 8,700. This change will reduce traffic and noise in the inpatient units where patients are resting, as well as enhance safety by limiting access to specific patients who may have limited visitation.

“We are committed to reducing any and all types of criminal activity that might find its way to our campus, and being prepared in every situation while maintaining our culture of compassion and excellence,” Kolentus said. “We frequently hear from patients and families about how our team members go the extra mile in providing their care. Upgrading to a police department will further enhance our constant efforts to maintain peace and safety for people often already in stressful health situations.”

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