Columbus IN January 11 2019 Two Columbus Police Department officers being investigated by the Indiana State Police for working a secondary job during a regular shift had been working at Columbus Regional Hospital as security.
Hospital officials confirmed Wednesday that officers Dan Meister and Ron May, who were the subject of an internal CPD investigation, were dismissed from their independent contractor jobs as CRH hospital security on Nov. 30, one day after CPD completed its internal investigation into accusations that the officers worked a secondary job while on a CPD shift.
Meister, who was previously a lieutenant, elected to take a patrol officer position and was reassigned to non-law enforcement duties within the department as of Nov. 29, according to Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman. May announced he would retire Nov. 29, and due to accumulated vacation and severance, is not working for the department now pending his retirement in May.
Indiana State Police detectives are investigating and Columbus Regional Hospital is fully cooperating with that investigation, said Kelsey DeClue, hospital spokeswoman.
There are a number of Columbus Police Department officers and Bartholomew County sheriff deputies who have off-duty employment with the hospital to provide additional security, Harris said. The officers do wear their uniforms with the permission of each of the departments.
Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said about six deputies have received permission from the sheriff’s department to work in a security role at the hospital. Each is required to have permission and to complete paperwork, including proof that they are insured for duties outside their role as a sheriff’s department employee, he said.
There are several Columbus Police Department officers who have received approval for what is termed “extra duty employment” at the hospital, Harris said, adding that he didn’t have the exact number.
There are requirements for an officer to be approved for the duty, including being in good standing with the department, having fulfilled their probationary time with the department (one year), that the work hours must be scheduled to not interfere with the performance of their regular CPD duties, Harris said. Officers who are suspended, on sick leave or light duty are not permitted to work “extra duty employment,” Harris said.
Other areas that officers work “extra duty employment” include hotels, special events or at The Commons, he said, describing it as a common occurrence as long as the officers meet the requirements set by the department.
DeClue said the local law enforcement officers work as independent contractors for the hospital system to supplement and enhance security provided by Protective Services, the hospital’s security company. She emphasized that the officers are not considered security guards, but rather to provide enhanced security.
Hospitals are identified as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security as part of a community emergency preparedness, warranting the need for added security and safety measures for patients, workers, visitors and others, DeClue said.
Off-duty law enforcement officers have been serving in the security role at the hospital since the 2008 flood, which destroyed portions of the facility, Harris said.
“The ‘first responder’ relationships we value with Columbus Fire Department, Columbus Police Department and others are just another arm of how the organizations cooperate and work together for the benefit of public safety and security,” DeClue said.
“These officers’ relationship with us is independent from any contracts the law enforcement agencies have with other entities,” she said. “It is the officer’s responsibility to get approval and communicate with Columbus Police Department (or their agency) about this. It is then our understanding these officers have approval to have an independent contract with the hospital.”
DeClue said the officers are not hospital employees — and the officers are not paid as a CRH workforce employee. Work shifts, pay and other details are arranged with Protective Services by the officers who apply to work security when off-duty, she said.
Officers who work the security shifts have a responsibility to manage their own schedules as the hospital does have a work schedule with them, DeClue said. They are paid as independent contractors with paychecks going directly to each officer.