Hospital at Odds With Police Over Inmate Dumping

Published: March 31, 2011

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The alleged dumping of inmates at Hutcheson Medical Center’s emergency room has prompted complaints and upset employees who feel they are at risk. According to emergency room workers, local law enforcement have dropped off inmates, uncuffed them and left them at the facility unattended.

According to part-time hospital security officer James Jones, emergency room staff have been hit and bitten by some of these inmates, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Employees believe that local sheriff’s offices are releasing the prisoners to avoid responsibility for their medical bills.

However, local authorities say that anyone they drop off at the hospital has already been released on bond. Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson told the news source that it is department policy to handcuff people who are being transported in a police transport vehicle. Hospital staff, he said, mistakenly believe the people being dropped off are still in custody.

Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers told the news source that hospital employees feel unsafe because the facility recently cut back security to save money. The hospital once employed 10 to 12 full-time security employees; the number was reduced to two full-time and nine part-time employees.

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