On Tuesday, April 29, 2014, two state hospital police officers and two other hospital employees were injured in an attack by three patients at Atascadero State Hospital (ASH). The assaults happened at about 8:30 p.m. when three patients in the dayroom caused a disturbance and charged at hospital employees.
Despite attempts to quell the disturbance, the three patients refused to stop and charged at hospital staff members and police officers. During the struggle, officers used both pepper spray and a police baton. One officer sustained two broken ribs during the incident, a second officer was treated for a possible torn muscle. The injuries to the two other hospital employees were considered minor.
ASH police officers arrested the three patients on charges that included assault, battery, resisting an officer and conspiracy. The three were then booked into the San Luis Obispo County jail.
"The safety of state hospital police officers is a continuing and growing concern of ours," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) which represents state hospital police officers. "As the patient population at state hospitals becomes increasingly more violent we need to be sure our officers have the very best in training and equipment, including a department-issued gun while transporting these patients to their appointments that are off hospital grounds and in the community where members of the public and our officers may be put at risk."
The CSLEA -Department of State Hospitals (DSH) Joint Labor Management Task Force (JLMTF), formed as a result of CSLEA contract negotiations with the State (article 15.4), continues to meet to address hospital police officer safety and to "explore issuing hospital police officers who are assigned to patrol, transportation and custody assignments outside the secure treatment areas of the hospitals with firearms, holsters, ammunition and ammunition carrying cases."
The most recent meeting was held April 21, 2014 in which the JLMTF received a presentation by Napa State Hospital Gang Unit Officers Karl Johnson and Sergio Flores.
The four CSLEA members in attendance were:
- Hospital Police Association of California (HPAC) President and Coalinga State Hospital Police Officer Luis Jimenez
- Napa State Hospital Police Officer Jared Burk
- Metropolitan State Hospital Police Officer Ronnie Morales
- CSLEA Legal Counsel Ryan Navarre
Attending from DSH were:
- New DSH Police Chief Kevin Hart
- Outgoing DSH Police Chief John Rolin
- Atascadero State Hospital Police Chief David Landrum
- Deputy Director Mark Beckley
- Napa State Hospital Executive Director Dolly Matteucci
- DSH Labor Relations Specialist Dana Manning
The use of a baton to stop the attack at Atascadero State Hospital on April 29, was the first use of a baton at Atascadero. Department of State Hospitals, Atascadero Executive Director Linda Persons commended the hospital police officers and other employees for handling "a very difficult situation in a professional manner."
"We are relieved the officers are recovering from their injuries and that they were not more seriously hurt," said Barcelona. "We will continue to fight for what's right for our hospital police officers because at the end of their day they should always return home to their families healthy and alive."