Photo caption: pictured from l to r: Ron Brewer, Gary City Councilman (At-Large); Joy Holiday, Executive Director, Gary for Life; Matt Doyle, Methodist Hospitals President & CEO; Commander Jack Hamady, Gary Police Department; Joseph Gonzalez, Methodist Hospitals Director of Public Safety and Security; Corporal Larry McKinley, Gary Police Department.
On Thursday, Methodist Hospitals announced in a press conference that it has become one of a growing number of Gary, Indiana businesses to pledge support for the Operation Safe Zone program. Methodist is joining the program to help keep its patients, providers, and the city of Gary as a whole safe.
Operation Safe Zone is an initiative launched in June that provides Gary police with live access to video feeds across the city. Areas monitored by the program have flashing blue lights and signage to indicate that people passing by are being recorded. The videos are streamed to an off-site location where police officers monitor the feeds 24/7. It has already been used to prevent or solve felony cases.
Methodist Hospitals has always maintained a close partnership with Gary, and Director of Public Safety and Security Joseph Gonzales believes that the hospital campus’ participation in Operation Safe Zone will help patients and providers feel safer.
“It’s a good direction for us to take, especially because of our emergency room,” said Gonzales. “We have a lot of traumas that come in, and a lot of people who come in that are agitated. We just felt it was a good approach to make things safe for people here on campus, whether they're an employee or a visitor.”
When a guest comes in that’s highly upset and poses a danger to themselves or others, the police will sometimes have to be involved. Thanks to Methodist’s participation in Operation Safe Zone, police can be better prepared when responding to calls by having visual information available to study beforehand.
“The police officers can scan the exterior portions of our buildings and the surrounding streets, and they can see what's going on here to know what's happening if they're ever called,” said Gonzales.
The cameras don’t serve solely as a reactive form of crime prevention. As people learn more about Operation Safe Zone, Gonzales believes that it will become a proactive deterrent for potential crimes. He also believes that people will see the blue light signifying a monitored area and feel a sense of comfort that businesses like Methodist are going the extra mile.
“We're hoping that people will understand that things are being monitored and that we're taking extra steps to make sure that they're safe and that we're going to give them the best possible experience,” said Gonzales. “A lot of people coming and going and smaller businesses throughout the city will, day-by-day, educate and inform people about Operation Safe Zone as much as possible.”
Currently, Methodist’s participation in the program allows police to access external feeds at the Northlake campus, but there are plans to expand both at other Methodist campuses as well as through helping small businesses in the area get enrolled in the program.
“I've been excited to be part of the program,” said Gonzales. “We are still in the process of expanding. We plan on placing blue lights on the corner of 5th and Grant, 7th and Grant, 21st and Grant, and 25th and Grant. We're also looking at working with other smaller businesses to get them into the program and to create a corridor down Grant Street to let people know that they are safe when they come through this area.”
To learn more about Methodist Hospitals and the services it provides, visit its website at methodisthospitals.org