By Michael A. FuocoÂ /Â Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC in Oakland, the scene of a deadly attack by a gunman in March, and similar health care facilities with the potential for volatility should be patrolled internally by police officers, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said Thursday.
He has recommended that stepped-up enforcement to UPMC officials.
The officers could be contracted from an existing department, such as the University of Pittsburgh police, or could be part of a new force created by the health care system, said Mr. Zappala, adding he had no preference. Moreover, he said it didn't matter to him if the officers were in uniforms, with guns exposed, or in plainclothes, with weapons hidden.
"What's important to me is there be an armed police presence on campus," Mr. Zappala said.
Other security enhancements that his consultants recommended were changes in access to buildings, use of metal detectors and installation of surveillance cameras, among others.
Mr. Zappala's comments came a day after the UPMC board of directors voted on improved security measures at WPIC and other facilities, such as Magee-Womens Hospital, the scene of a baby kidnapping on Aug. 23. He said he did not know what the board had decided but that he would be briefed by UPMC officials next week.
The recommendation for WPIC and other facilities came from a team of consultants Mr. Zappala put together to analyze the March 8 attack in which gunman John Shick, 30, entered the first floor of the facility and shot six people, one fatally, before Pitt police responded and killed him.
UPMC likewise instituted a review of security procedures at all of its facilities and both teams have been working cooperatively, Mr. Zappala said.
"From my discussion with [UPMC] chief counsel, they are serious about this and plan to do some really meaningful things and will implement rather significant changes," Mr. Zappala said. "I am optimistic this is going to be very significant to the community. It would be rather rapid change of practices we currently have in place."
UPMC would not comment on the board's actions other than to say in a prepared statement that the health system "is conducting a thorough review of all security measures, including the security protocols at WPIC, to ensure the safety of our patients and employees."