Paul Blart: Hospital Cop?

Paul BlartA bill now being considered in the Iowa Senate would create a new breed of police officer in the state. These won’t be you typical “rent-a-cop” types, either.

Senate File 163, submitted Thursday by state Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), would allow the governing board of any hospital to commission “one or more of its employees as peace officers.” It requires those officers receive training and certification from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, or at a training school approved by the academy.

Hospital police officers, under the proposed legislation, would have most of the same general authorities given to regular police officers, including the power to arrest, without warrant, anyone who commits any offense within their view. Those powers may be curtailed by the hospital’s governing board.

According to SF 163’s explanatory statement, hospital police would also have “the duty to assist and cooperate with other law enforcement agencies, peace officers, and prosecutors.” Through a Chapter 28E agreement with a law enforcement agency, the officer’s jurisdiction may also expand beyond the property of the hospital.

The Iowa Association of Magistrate Judges is the only lobbyist organization to declare a position on SF 163, so far. It is officially “undecided” on the proposed legislation.