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Long Island hospitals arming security guards with firearms after uptick in violence

Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 18:30:05-05

Armed security guards will soon work at 13 Long Island hospitals following an uptick in violence at Northwell Health hospitals, according to security officials there.

“People feel safer, and we feel safer,” said John Piccolino, a retired NYPD officer who’s now an armed security Sgt. at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park. "As long as people carrying the weapon are trained and have experience, I don’t see any problems.”

Northwell 23 hospitals total. James Romagnoli is one of the heads of security.

“We’ve seen some very serious assaults against staff either by patients or disgruntled employees," he said Tuesday. "We’ve had incidents involving gangs where firearms have been fired on our campus.”

Northwell started putting more safety measures in place within the last two years, including optical barriers and armed officers. They’ve also had active-shooter drills with the Nassau County Police Department.

“I think the incidents like Parkland and Bronx Lebanon Hospital are instances that substantiated our train of thought in being more proactive and elevating our level of security.”

For those who may not want to walk into a hospital and see a firearm on a security guard, Romagnoli says it will keep all hospital staff, patients and visitors safe.

Officials at Northwell hope to have armed security guards at all of their hospitals within the next two years.