Baltimore City Police announce change in policy for calls for service at hospitals

The Baltimore City Police Department has announced a change in its policy on officers responding to calls for service at hospitals.

The move comes after 19-year-old George King died at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital last week, after he was Tased by a Baltimore City Police Officer.
On Wednesday Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was asked about the case on the Marc Steiner radio show.

“We're looking at some policy reviews coming off of that; there's some issues that irritate me about the entire situation,” the commissioner said.

He also said he wants to know why the officers needed to be at the hospital.  Five hospital security guards were trying to control George King, and when they could not, they called police.

That appears to have led to a policy change within the department.

“I put a moratorium on us responding to hospitals or mental locations before sergeants evaluate why we're being called into those situations,” the commissioner said.

Granville Templeton, the attorney for George King's mother -- who is preparing a lawsuit against the department -- said he agrees with the commissioner's decision.

“It's an acknowledgement that the officers did do the wrong thing in his case,” he said.

He said the Taser should not have been used -- and if it hadn't been, he believes George King would still be alive.

“Did you look to see, hey, I'm in a hospital.  Does this guy have a heart issue? Is he having a seizure? What's really going on now. Is the best thing to do to use a Taser?" Templeton said.

Dr. Stephen R. T. Evans, the executive vice president of medical affairs, and chief medical officer for Medstar said his employees will continue to call the police when they believe their assistance is needed.

He released a statement, which read in part: "Any delays in response by police, or decisions not to respond, pose a serious threat to our patients and employees and to our ability to fulfill our mission of caring for patients."

After the commissioner's appearance on that radio show, his public relations staff also released a statement, saying officers will respond to hospitals where there is a threat to safety or a clear violation of the law.  If that is not the case a supervisor would have to approve it before an officer goes to a hospital.

The police department’s investigation into the death of George King is ongoing.

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