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Memo to Special and Senior Special Officers of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) Hospital Police

Part III: HHC Hospital Police, the road forward

Winter: 2013

Twitter Point:  If you are a member of the HHC Hospital Police and you have a vision of where you want the Hospital Police to go, then you need like-minded people to help you achieve those goals.  In any case learn from what your union preaches: "in unity there is strength."

   Before I go further, I need to make one or two points about your union: Local 237. You have a president, Gregory Floyd' who I knew when he was a newly promoted senior special officer. As I mentioned before I could tell that he was a pretty ambitious young man. But his ambition never had anything to do with expanding the vision of what the Hospital Police can do. Today he is president of your union and like all local presidents, he's looking for promotional opportunities or at the least to remain president for life. I'm not condemning the man, I am just saying that is what union presidents are programed to do.  If Local 237 gets you, a contract that is in line with what the other unions are getting than Local 237 is doing all they are capable of. We are in the era where unions have declined in both membership and power. They try to get what is possible and that is all you can expect from your union.

   So if you want to escape being a farm team for the big time law enforcement agencies in NYC, then some of you are going to have to get off your butts, get organized and start to do the type of professional things that will help the Hospital Police get the recognition and money that they deserve.

   And if you are a member of the HHC Hospital Police and think that any union should be the driving force behind the field of Hospital Policing than you are part of the reason why the Hospital Police will never move forward.  Like all police organizations, the push for professional and political growth all comes from individual members within the organization. If you take time to study the history of policing, you will find that it was individual members of those organizations who spent their own time to get an education, whether formal or informal that helped them understand the nature of policing. At one time, all police were considered fools and corruct; no police union could have changed the way society felt about the police during the early period of policing.

When I was involved with the HHC Hospital Police, they had all kinds of fraternal organizations, but the one organization I never saw was a fraternal leadership organization composed of sergeants and above. [Yes, sergeants - they are the most pivotal group in getting anything done in the Hospital Police.] If you are a captain reading this, then you know that from the first-day  someone is appointed to the sergeant's position you have to come up with a plan to show them how to excel and most importantly, get their subordinates to excel. Otherwise some may become the type of leader who will land you in court someday. I don't need to give examples from my past. You don't need me to tell you that some people become a sergeant, just so they can sit on their ass and hide. And when a sergeant has that attitude, it is only a matter of time before something bad happens.


Sad to say I never thought of such an organization when I was a member of the Hospital Police. I was more concerned with my own promotional opportunities and my own personal vision of what the Hospital Police should be about. To say that I was nearsighted and couldn't see the big picture would be correct. The big picture is that it takes many people to change the culture and job prospects of an organization and those people have to get organized with clear objectives that are doable and not fantasy for the group to achieve their objectives.   


This organization would be devoted to not only improving the leadership capabilities of its' member but also showing HHC an alternative to (ex-NYPD and  other agencies) police types looking to double dip on their pensions. When I was in the HHC Hospital Police, all the important central office staff positions were filled with ex-NYPD.  If these guys ever did anything of consequence than it must have been top secret, because I never saw them do more than be errand boys for the Corporate Director of Security, who also was ex-NYPD. I have been out of the system awhile so I don't know if double dipping still happens. What I do believe is that most of the NYPD types take the director jobs because their career has stalled in the NYPD and now they're looking for something that they think should be easier. The ones I have met during my career, generally patronize their hospital police supervisors as well as their officers, but never develop their subordinates leadership potential. If they ever did their days of double dipping would be over.


Each peace officer title should have their own chapter. Since I have never had experience in the other peace officer titles, I am going to direct my comments only to the Hospital Police titles.


 Like all organizations there should be a specific mission statement that gives the overall goal of the organization. Beyond that there needs to be specific goals that will help achieve the overall goal:


  1.  Get rid of the security guard narrative: A couple of years ago in a HHC Hospital a person in a so-called  mental ward was allowed to die while plenty of people around this person did nothing. This was shameful but what made it stupid was the fact that all of this was video taped and certainly everyone in that part of the hospital, especially the special officers on post should have known that everything was video taped and if something bad happened city investigators were going to look at the videotape.  It would be easy to blame everything on the two special officers involved; but everyone in the chain of command in that department has to share part of the blame. If you are a real leader, you make sure all of your people in the field are trained and get enough support to succeed. If they don't want to succeed, then you know what you have to do.  The above incident is a powerful narrative about the HHC Hospital Police. It is not a true narrative, but it is the type of narrative that the media and the public will believe is the truth. Everyday members of the hospital police interact with the public and fellow employees. If you are a supervisor do you know what types of narrative are your subordinates creating. If you don't like the narrative, what are you going to do about it?
  2. Change the narrative from security guards to police force.  Not easy and will take a lot of hard work to create. That was the same problem that the NYPD had in its' early years. Unlike the current NYPD, the early PD forces had drunks and people who were willing to crack heads to make sure the local rich and politicians weren't bothered by the rabble(usually poor working minorities like the Italians, Poles and Irish). Eventually enough people who had abundant vision to understand what a police force should be in a modern society got together and changed their narrative. During my second time at Woodhull Hospital, I created a newsletter called 'Behind the Shield'. This newsletter was designed to do different things such as show the value in having a hospital police organization in the hospital. We made a lot of copies and other employees read our newsletter every month. Certainly, every arrest or incident where hospital police looked competent made it into the newsletter. The newsletter also recognized different officers who contributed something to the hospital police during each month. Aside from myself, other members of the hospital police gained some experience and recognition for turning out a monthly eight page newsletter. Because the Hospital Police are also involved with safety and fire control, this allowed people in other departments to contribute to the newsletter. Every hospital in the system should have this type of newsletter as a starting point in changing their narrative. If the people in a hospital don't understand what you are doing, why should they give you their support?
  3. Expand the services your department provides: During my time at Woodhull, I cannot  remember one prisoner that was in the control of the Hospital Police ever escaping from our facility. The same could not be said about the NYPD as several prisoners escaped their control during my time at Woodhull. I believe that this is one area where the Hospital Police does a better job than the NYPD. I will also state that the Hospital Police can perform this service at less cost than the NYPD with the added benefit of freeing the NYPD officers for their primary duties of crime prevention and crime apprehension outside of our hospitals. Should our officers be armed when performing these duties: you betcha! Every incident where someone escapes the custody of the NYPD should be followed up with an incident report. Questions like what led to the escape, did anyone get hurt or killed, what do we need to do to prevent similar incidents from happening. All the answers to these questions need to be collected and correlated with other similar incidents from other hospitals. In the end, your data has to show how HHC and NYPD will benefit from such an idea.
  4. The only route to professionalism: College, yes college, a lot more people in the hospital police have to spend their time and money going to a college like John Jay college of Criminal Justice. Don't expect some union to come along and give you guns, money and the respect that other police agencies have. [However, you should expect your union to bargain for extra money for people who have a relevant college degree(This is one area where you need to become part of the conversation). People with a relevant degree add value to the Hospital Police and they should be paid for adding extra value. If other job titles can get extra pay, why not the Hospital Police?) Other police agencies gained their status from a lot of effort and money off and on the job from the rank and file in those organizations. Eventually, some of the rank and file moved into leadership positions. If you want the other hospital professions to consider your department as professional and not look down at you like you're a bunch of guards than a fair amount of your supervisors have to get their credentials just like the other professional groups in your hospital. If you talk to other people in other hospital professions, you have to have it in your head that in your field, you are the expert and you have the credentials to prove it. Once enough of you reach that level then you will find a lot more respect from the other professions in your hospital.  During my time, a newly appointed Director of Security didn't need a four-year degree to get a director's job. I would guess that some hospitals have changed that requirement.
  5. Secondary route to professionalism: Not only should you join a professional organization like ASIS but you should study similar organizations and take from them what you need to create your own organization. Especially standards, all professional organizations have a set of standards that they want their member to adhere to. You must create your own standards, but I will give you one hint. Your standards must set you apart from a security guard force. When I was a member of ASIA, the local chapter which numbered close to 1000 members met once a month for a local luncheon - usually at some swank hotel in Manhattan. Most of the people I met were ex-NYPD and they all had nice security director jobs in New York City.  
  6. Connect with other like minded people in your union's peace officer titles: During my time, there were a lot of sharp people in the Hospital Police and the HRA Police. Today local 237 has a lot more peace officer titles, If you reach out to the other titles, I am sure you are going to find not only talent, but people who are going to give their time and energy into making your organization successful.
  7. At some point you have to pressure your union: If you have read the other stuff that I have written, then you know that I don't believe the special officer and other peace officer titles are going to move out of Local 237. If you keep wasting your energies in trying to get out of the union, you will never get the Hospital Police to achieve what should be the first overall goal of your organization: create a bottom to top ranking structure where someone starts with the special officer title and has a chance to be the Corporate Director of the Hospital Police. Even if I am wrong and you do get out of Local 237, you will still need a professional organization to achieve the goals of bottom to top leadership.  The second overall objective will happen when some of the retired Hospital Police directors move into good-paying  security director jobs just like the retired NYPD personnel had done for many years.   Yes, I know that objective will take years to accomplish, but if you don't start on a goal, you will never finish a goal. Your union may not be interested in your goal because they are a union and not a professional organization. So, if you pressure the union, you have to be prepared to show them that you are organized and will keep applying the pressure until you get what you want.  You also have to prove your case and show the union that the union will be better off if they work with you and not against you. Overtime your union, if they buy into what you are saying, will get you what you deserve. Without Local 237's help, these goals will be pretty difficult to accomplish. 
  8. Change the narrative of the Health and Hospitals Corporation: I took the first exam they had for special officer in the Hospital Police. On 10/30/1972, I started my career as a special officer at Gouverneur Hospital( yes, at one time it was sort of but not completely a hospital). Without any training, I was assigned to the 4 to 12 shift and told to take a post in the lobby of the hospital. The whole night I saw very little of my supervisor who basically left me on my own to figure things out. Later, I got a uniform and was given some round patches to put on my uniforms. I think the patches had the word security on them but I'm not sure of that.  At some point, I started wearing the current Hospital Police patches that are now worn by the hospital police. If you are new to the hospital police, you would assume that this was part of a corporate policy to show that you are part of a police force. The truth is that a member of the Hospital Police created that patch and once his fellow officers saw the patch everyone wanted to rip off the old round patch and put on the new patch. And that is exactly what happened. My guess is that in the Hospitals that were run by ex-NYPD  types, they let the officers keep the patches as a way to patronize the officers. It's just like when someone gets promoted to Lieutenant or Detective and they're not given the money, training and enough authority to do the job. It is nothing more than a title that can disappear as quickly as it was created.  Once enough hospital units started wearing the patch the then corporate director of security who was also ex-NYPD  went along and made it a corporate policy. I mention this because the Health and Hospitals Corporation never really understood the value of the Hospital Police and what they needed to do to increase that value. If they did they never would have given all the top positions to ex-NYPD  and other retired police types, they would have developed their top leadership from the Hospital Police. However the corporation has clearly, at least during my time on the force, made a value judgement about what they think about the rank and file of the hospital police. You are not bright enough, experienced enough and not someone they want to lead your department. That is the narrative you have to change. Hospital Police by themselves cannot  change that narrative. Only an organization devoted to developing leadership can change that narrative.
  9. Change the narrative of key HHC employee groups: Yes, I'm talking about Doctors and Nurses.  I remember when Local 237 used a lot of their political influence to have some officers carry firearms for a limited period at King's county hospital. As far as I know the officers picked were a credit to the Hospital Police and no one embarrassed the organization. Yet once the time limit expired, the corporation decided that they weren't going to arm hospital police officers. I'm sure there were many reasons, money being the chief reason, why the corporation would take such a position. But I'm willing to bet that the second chief reason was that doctors and nurses were against the arming of the hospital police. Thus, these are two groups that you need to build relations with.  How do you build relations with these groups?  Easy, both  groups are concerned about their security both inside and outside of the hospital. This is why you need to build a cadre of experts in everything from personal protection to getting scammed on the internet.  These experts write papers or even a book on their subject area of expertise and more importantly appear at meetings of doctors and nurses as experts whom they can learn from. When a critical incident happens at a hospital, someone needs to come forward and say what needs to be done. At the very least your organization needs to issue press releases to anyone who can have an impact on the hospital police.(media, Doctors, nurses, politicians)   I doubt if every officer and supervisor will ever be issued firearms. And I might add that during my career, there were several officers who would make me very afraid if they were issued firearms. But I also believe that a case could be made for the limited issuing of firearms. During my career, some really bad people with bad intentions have entered our hospitals. It's not a question of will someday a massacre occur. It is only a question of when.  
  10. Maintenance and growth: At least, a monthly meeting to discuss problems in the hospital system and more importantly. What are the solutions to those problems? If someone is doing something that improves the narrative at a hospital, then the rest of the members need to know about it. Topics such as training, education and professional groups that will help to make the organization's members competitive with other police agency personnel for the top HHC police jobs need to be discussed. For example, in my time I wasn't aware of anyone else except for myself, not even corporate, who were creating and analyzing crime stats at their hospitals.  Resources are always limited so these types of stats are important in deciding where and when to deploy your resources. I wish there had been such an organization that I could have shared my master thesis with. Sad to say my security director at the time wasn't interested in what I was doing. He called my ideas theory and stuff that doesn't work in the real world. 
  11. Your narrative has to go public: There should be enough talent in Local 237's peace officer titles to produce a monthly newspaper or at the very least a monthly downloaded newspaper. And yes hospital police personnel should pay a subscription fee to support the newspaper. And certainly all businesses that deal with the hospital police should be urged to advertise. If the newspaper is about making the Hospital Police a top-tier  organization than a lot of people have to spend time and money making this happen. My advice to people who are too cheap to pay for a subscription: buy a lottery ticket and hope for a miracle.  And finally, there is no excuse not to build a web site and publishing division that will not only make you look professional but also showcase the multitude of talents in the Local 237 peace officer job titles.  Today, it is much easier to have your own book division. If you check my site on Amazon, you will see that I am also selling my novel directly with my own seller 'Hemingway Direct'. The best part about this is that I'm not printing or shipping my book and Amazon keeps track of the amount of books sold and my commissions... Amazon does that for me, and I get a larger commission for every book sold. So if your organization wants to set up their own publishing division all it takes is a form to fill out and a few clicks here and there.
  12. Widen the scope of what the Hospital Police have to investigate. Do you think that all crimes in a hospital are committed by some junkie looking for money for drugs? If you take the time to study hospitals in this country, you will see that every position in a hospital - Doctors, nurses, administrative are all potential criminals. All it takes is need, opportunity and a little arrogance to think that they can get away with it. Hospital Police need to do the same thing that other police organizations have done: expand your turf and always redefine what Hospital Police have to do.
  13. Something to think about: Up until the late 1940's most police officers and detectives were thought of as either corrupt or stupid. The real heros were private detectives. All of the great pulp fiction detectives like 'Sam Spade' were all private. Until the FBI became a professional federal investigative force, the best detective work was done by private agencies like Pinkerton. Eventually, police agencies cleaned up their act and became more professional. As a consequence writers started writing novels where professional police officers and detectives were hero's and not bums. And society read the novels or watched the movies and slowly the perception of the police changed. I don't know how many people will change their perception about the hospital police once they read my novel, but I bet a lot of those readers will stop thinking the word 'guard' after they read my novel. If the person reading this paragraph wants to write their own novel about the hospital police, I will be happy to give a review and put it on my site.


 Eventually just like other law enforcement agency's leadership must be built from the bottom to the top. Not only, the local director title but also the corporate director title and the staff people who support both titles should come from the special officer title. There has to be a clear pathway where a new hospital police officer can work their way up to the top spot. All I am saying is the rules of the game have to be changed so that Captains who have worked to become qualified will have a shot at the upper-level  positions. That is one area where your union can help by pressuring HHC to change the qualification for Assistant Director of Hospital Police to include a bachelor's degree and actual leadership experience in an actual HHC facility. Yes, I know what you are thinking, this change should be for the director and corporate director positions. But it's just like eating a pizza pie: you don't eat the whole pie at once, if you did bad things might happen. Once you get enough Assistant Directors you lobby to make the Assistant Directors job a prerequisite for the Directors job. Once you have enough qualified directors you lobby to make the Directors job a prerequisite for the Corporate Director's job. The other point is you really don't want the HHC and their NYPD friends to know what you are doing until it is too late.

If there are no qualifications to becoming a Lieutenent or Detective than at some point the organization has to decide what are the qualities needed for someone to be successful at these positions. In my day these weren't paid positions, these were positions given to local favorites of the Director of Security. If these are still unpaid positions it will take a lot of effort to make these titles a part of what is needed to make the Hospital Police a professional organization. 

 Someday, someone will take that old 'Director of Security guards' title, throw it in the garbage can where it belongs and replace it with a Director of Hospital Police title as the civil-service  title for their job. Remember you can call yourself hospital police but until someone takes the word 'security' out of the captains* and directors civil service titles you will only be security in the minds of the organization you work for. Remember you have to educate the people you work for, as much as the people you serve.


If the above hasn't changed than the chance of the average captain assuming a director or corporate position is slim, unless he or she is political and maybe a little devious. I do remember one Director of Security, who achieved his position by meeting the executive director of the hospital each morning as she got out of her car and then escorted her to the entrance to the hospital. I don't know whether he had a cup of coffee for her, but I bet he did.




Please let your elected officials know how you feel. Copy and paste your Comments on to their web pages.  




If you have a web site please list your site's url. It is a good way to improve your SEO via links from other sites. Also if people like your content they may click on your site and like your site's content. If you are a author, maybe they might even buy a copy of your novel.

So far no one from the Hospital Police has made a single comment and frankly I have to wonder if it is the same type of people that I knew from the hospital police. Not even one jerk making cheap shots to boost their ego at my expense. I expected some challenges to my ideas, I didn't expect apathy.


















Hospital Police HHC

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