Mayo Clinic & RPD Hospital Resource Officer program continues to grow

(ABC 6 NEWS) – If you’ve been to Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Campus over the past year, you may have seen a hospital resource officer walking through the halls.

This program is a collaboration between Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Police Department.

The program started with three officers, but two more were added this year to provide a law enforcement presence at all times.

It started when some Mayo employees realized there was a need to have law enforcement present at all times at the Saint Marys Campus.

One of those employees is Dr. Casey Clements he’s an Emergency Physician and Staff Safety Officer.

Clements said the resource officers are there for certain situations within the campus.

For example, HRO officers would be brought in when there is a patient who is under arrest, when someone commits a crime within the hospital, or when there are situations of workplace violence.

"Workplace violence is a big problem in healthcare. 74% of injuries in the workplace from workplace violence happen in the healthcare sector," said Clements.

Captain Jeff Stilwell with the Rochester Police Department is in charge of the hospital resource officers.

"One of the things that surprised us was how much violence there was in the healthcare setting against staff," said Stilwell.

There is a difference between what these officers handle and what Mayo Clinic security handles.

For example, security would handle things like mental health emergencies, and the HRO would only be needed if things were to reach a law enforcement need.

"A lot of the training had to do with where the lines between the hospital systems and our systems," said Stilwell.

"I think that is one of the real benefits of this program is we are keeping law enforcement separate from security because they do provide distinct functions and we need that to provide safe and equitable care within the hospital," said Clements.

Since the program started, there was some challenges.

"I think the biggest challenge is there are lines there is privileged information in there in the healthcare system that we have no right to and we have to make sure we are not trying to that those lines are clearly delineated for both hospital staff and for the police staff that is in there," said Stilwell.

The program also helps RPD by not taking officers off the streets by designating some specifically to the Saint Marys Campus.

So far, Mayo employees see the benefits.

"It is one of the things that I think is most popular among the staff when I talk to people they say you know I feel so much safer at work knowing that this is here," said Clements.

"You have time to get to know people, you have time to build relationships and we really appreciate the way that mayo has accepted them as part of their healthcare team," said Stilwell.

The officers are contracted through Mayo Clinic but are still employees of RPD.

According to the Rochester Police Department, there have been 1,039 calls to Saint Marys Campus since Jan. 2020.

Stilwell said the greatest need is at Saint Marys Campus right now, but in the future, the program could expand to other Mayo Clinic campuses.