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UPMC to provide own police force

UPMC Susquehanna will soon have its own armed police force at Williamsport and Divine Providence hospitals, a hospital executive said.

Steven P. Johnson, president of UPMC in the Susquehanna Region, told City Council Thursday about the idea under development at the hospital.

He said he wanted to see it happen in the next 90 days and will work with the city administration and council on the project.

The hospital police officers would be

empowered to make arrests on the hospital campuses but not outside of that jurisdiction, he said.

Hospital executives worked out some details with police this week.

“Yes, Williamsport Bureau of Police command staff met this week with hospital security command staff,” said Damon R. Hagan, city police chief.

“We will still go in support of whatever security and police force is there and once we get there, depending on type of incident and seriousness of it, a decision will be made as to what agency will handle it,” Hagan said.

“To my knowledge, the hospital security force will not respond to assist city police on incidents outside of the campuses,” Hagan said.

“We on council were pleased to hear the UPMC was initiating an armed security system,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, chairwoman of council’s public safety committee.

“The city has a similar agreement with Pennsylvania College of Technology which benefits the college and city,” she said.

Some discussion took place as to whether there will be a buffer zone of several hundred yards or so outside of the hospitals but those details would need to be put into the mutual aid agreement, according to the city solicitor.

“Council will have to approve any mutual aid agreement on this police matter,” said Norman Lubin, city solicitor.

Councilwoman Liz Miele said she was looking forward to reviewing the hospital police force project and had a lot of questions as to the scope and reach of hospital police versus what city police responsibility is.

Reached Friday, Mayor Derek Slaughter, said he was encouraged by the hospital armed police force but felt more comfortable declining to comment on it at this time.

“We will have a press release on it once it is done,” he said.

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