BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- There is an unfamiliar sight in some Eastern Maine hospitals, on-duty police officers guarding the emergency rooms. Local hospitals are beefing up security after several incidents put staff and patients in harms way. Monday night St. Joseph's hospital began taking the necessary steps to add Bangor police officers equipped with a taser to keep any unruly patients under control. Eastern Maine Medical Center has already taken similar measures.
Security Manager Steve Russell with EMMC said, "Security has been an evolution and there's no one specific incident that's happened, it's just been over the years seeing more and more patients that become aggressive either upon arrival or after they've been here for a while."
The hospital added a metal detector, security guards, and a nightly Bangor police officer to their emergency room.
Russell said, "We had a number of incidents where people become very agitated very quickly and we have had cases where staff has been assaulted with feet, fists spit at, and we wanted to take the proactive step."
The hope is to cut down on the increased number of calls the Bangor Police Department receives for back-up.
Sergeant Paul Edwards with Bangor Police Department said, "I think it's probably due to this bath salts increase, drug abuse increase or spike that gives people adverse reactions."
The officer spends six hours an evening at the hospital and only they have access to the taser.
Sergeant Edwards said, "It's just again another security level for them to say maybe we need police intervention and if that person decides to become volatile or aggressive toward staff and a hands on approach doesn't work, a taser is much more easier to handle someone."
These new security members will not keep people away from the care that they need. "Under no circumstances are we going to delay someone's care to have them screened," said Russell.
EMMC has no plans to add security to other parts of the hospital.
Calls to St Joseph's Hospital were not returned. Acadia Hospital also added an on-duty officer. The hospital workers declined to comment.