On Monday, November 17, 2014, the officer responded to an incident that began at 10:05 p.m. in which a patient violently attacked another patient in their dorm room. The attacker then assaulted the police officer, striking him several times in the face. The officer was treated at a local hospital and monitored for other possible injuries before going home.
The patient who attacked the officer was arrested the next day on suspicion of felony assault, felony resisting and misdemeanor battery charges. He was booked into the San Luis Obispo County jail.
"The public is becoming increasingly more aware of what's happening at our state mental hospitals," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) which represents State Hospital police officers. "These hospitals treat violent individuals who have been sent there by the courts because they are accused of, or have committed, violent crimes. In 2012, there were more than 3100 acts of aggression or violence against officers or staff at the state's five mental hospitals. That's more than eight a day and 250 a month. The Department of State Hospitals must continue to step up for safety, including hiring additional police officers and increasing their pay in order to retain them. Currently, it is very difficult to recruit and retain hospital police officers due to the salary, which is lower than most neighboring law enforcement agencies."
The patient who was assaulted in the November 17th attack suffered head and facial injuries and was treated at a hospital other than Atascadero. He returned to Atascadero the next day.
"We are thankful the hospital police officer was not hurt any more seriously than he was," said Barcelona. "Our hospital police officers are understaffed, therefore overworked due to overtime requirements, and they are underpaid. The State must pay attention to what's happening here because everyone's safety is at risk."