Close Encounters with Hospital Para-Police

The state of Delaware allows public and private institutions to employ constables or para-police to help “preserve the peace and good order of the state,” including on ChristianaCare (CCHS) facilities. Though they are not allowed to carry guns on duty, constables can otherwise act the same as police officers, including making arrests.

Evidently, at the East Coast’s 11th largest hospital system, parapolice can also act like goons and thugs, as evidenced by this “Raw Video: Hospital constables rough up man.” It shows 4 constables punching, kicking, and kneeing a man while forcibly restraining him in a room at Wilmington Hospital on Feb. 24, 2017. “‘Take him to the room with no camera,’ Carter remembers hearing someone say, adding he searched for a camera when he entered the room…Carter questioned constables why they were being so aggressive, but he said he already sensed what was coming. ‘I could tell the way they grabbed me and they were being all physical that something was going to happen,’ he said.” The article includes that “At Christiana Care, we are committed to an environment in which every person is treated fairly and compassionately,’ Browne said in Christiana’s first release. “This incident does not reflect Christiana Care’s values of serving our neighbors with respect and dignity.'”

Really? Who was responsible for their training? What kind of institutional culture fosters such violence? 

According to “deconstable,” who posted in an forum, ChristianaCare, will “pretty much pay to send [constables]…to any training course you want,” but evidently it does not focus on actual training in dealing effectively with human beings. 

In the Delaware Online article, “Man roughed up by hospital constables: I knew it was coming,” CCHS Vice President of Communication Karen Y. Browne is quoted as assuring that “four constables and two supervisors have been ‘separated’ from the organization,” and “We’ve already begun retraining our public safety staff on our policies and procedures, and are committed to preventing anything similar to this from happening again,” which would seem to solve the problem IF the issue was those 4 officers, rather than institutional culture.

However, within a few weeks of that incident, some of the remainder of the 67 constables were involved in another rough-up incident. In this video, “Change still sought with constables at Christiana Care,” a private citizen describes how ChristianaCare (CCHS) para-police rushed, cuffed, and detained him after he filmed them physically accosting someone. When they gave his phone back, they told him he had to delete the video or be charged for “making a video inside of a private institution.” The accosted man said in the interview, ” I just want change. I don’t want a lawsuit, I don’t want money, I don’t want fame or notoriety, I want change. I want the people to be treated fairly. I want people to know that there’s no reason to treat people like less than people.”

Deconstable noted in the user forum that the mega-hospital replaces “uniforms, duty gear, patrol vehicles…yearly,” and that “whatever the newest ‘police toy’ is out on the market they buy it for us.” (Golly, that’s comforting!) The forum user also stated that the mega-hospital it is the “only hospital in Delaware to have a fully trained K-9 program. We have 4 teams of canines and handlers that are nationally certified in both explosives and patrol work.” Deconstable described the job as “some days its security work unlocking doors, on other nights when 100 people show up for a shooting victim that arrived from the City of Wilmington you’ll have your hands full; and everything else in between like family fights, disorderly persons, thefts, combative patients, trespassers, and involuntary mental health committals [Emphasis mine]. 

My own encounters with ChristianaCare’s parapolice in 2022 were not physically violent, but abusive nonetheless. They harassed me by phone, accused me of crimes they could not describe or relate to law, and clearly did not have an understanding of the Code of Delaware they were supposedly citing. It would have been ludicrous if it had not been so pathetic. These guys acted like ignorant bullies. I believe that’s why they’re hired. I mean, they supposedly go through a mental health exam. Shouldn’t that screen out the nasty ones? From my experience, it seems those are the ones hired. 

The issue with ChristianaCare parapolice is not one or two incidents, but an organizational culture designed to overstep, while it says its “promise to you” is to “to serve our neighbors as expert, caring partners in their health. We do this by creating innovative, effective, affordable and equitable systems of care.” This is quite counter to much of my experience in that rigid and chaotic system. Unfortunately, it’s clear I am far from alone.

This entry was posted in Patient Safety and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *