‘Here to serve the Michigan Medicine community’: Organization welcomes an on-site police officer

January 9, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

Michigan Medicine is committed to ensuring the safety of all patients, staff, faculty and visitors who walk through its doors. To continue broadening its approach to creating the safest environment possible, the organization is introducing a new lead police officer position to serve the Michigan Medicine community. 

Long-time U-M police officer Theo Chalogianis was selected for the new position starting this month and will be embedded within the Division of Public Safety and Security’s Michigan Medicine Security Department. Before becoming a police officer, Chalogianis started in the public safety field as a U-M hospital security officer.

“The new position will assist in the potential development of a blended and seamless public-safety model aimed at reducing police response time to emergencies and building relationships within our health care community,” said U-M DPSS Executive Director, Eddie L. Washington, Jr.

“Adding Theo to our organization is a major step forward as we evaluate what all facets of safety and security at the health system — including a police presence — may look like,” said Hilary King, M.S., R.N., associate director of operations for Michigan Medicine. “Theo will be working with DPSS and our clinical leadership teams and staff to determine where we go from here. Throughout this process, we are grateful for our strong partnership with DPSS.”

Headlines recently sat down with lead police officer Chalogianis to find out more about him and the new position. 

Q: First, can you explain what your new role is at Michigan Medicine and how it is different than the way DPSS patrolled the organization before?

TC: DPSS police and security officers routinely patrol Michigan Medicine facilities. However, now with an established police officer on-site, the Michigan Medicine community will have a more immediate, accessible and embedded police entity that provides guidance and support focused on the needs unique to a health care environment. DPSS police and security officers will continue to patrol Michigan Medicine together and respond as needed. But now, I will serve as an in-house resource and a conduit between all DPSS departments.

I also look forward to contributing to Michigan Medicine training programs, such as the SAVE program, which stands for Situational Awareness for Violent Events. This training runs participants through various scenarios and gives them tips on how best to approach situations. Topics include workplace violence prevention, intervention and response, situational awareness, crime prevention and in-home health care safety. 

Police and security officers invest in regular training to ensure their ability to react during stressful situations. This principle holds true to anyone. The more realistic and practical that we can make our training, the more prepared our frontline staff will be to handle stressful situations that they may encounter. I am excited to bring the knowledge and experience that I have gained during my 18 years working in law enforcement to this training. 

Q: What is the difference between a security officer and a police officer?

TC: Police and security officers both share the primary responsibility of public safety, focusing on crime prevention and investigation. However, there are differences between security and police officers that benefit the community in different ways.

A police officer is sworn into the position under the police officer’s oath for the State of Michigan after graduating from a police academy. Once sworn, police officers enforce laws, while security officers enforce policies and respond to incidents on their assigned property. 

Our hospital security officers are highly trained and know how to respond to emergencies, assist with patients and provide excellent service to our community. They also serve as an integral part of the DPSS family in reporting and identifying crime, allowing for the quick response and thorough investigation of incidents and concerns. Additionally, hospital security officers develop relationships with unit staff, resulting in improved trust and collaboration. 

We benefited from the knowledge that security officers acquire through relationship building within their areas of operation. Just this week, a security officer received a report from a Michigan Medicine employee regarding the concerning behavior of a patient. After discussing the specific behaviors and concerns, we worked together to create a safety plan to keep everyone safe. It’s nice to see how quickly the partnership is making a positive impact.

Q: What’s the biggest thing you’d want faculty and staff to know about your role?

TC: I am here to support and serve the Michigan Medicine community. Whether for emergency situations, safety planning or simply answering questions, I look forward to fostering new relationships and serving as an additional safety and security resource for our patients, staff, and visitors. 

As a whole, I hope my presence brings an added feeling of safety for our community. I want people to feel comfortable contacting DPSS and more aware of the resources offered. If people feel safer as they heal, visit their loved ones, or care for their patients, then that would be a success for me.

Q: What’s the best way to reach you and/or your team when you are at the academic medical center?

TC: The best way to contact me is via email at theo@umich.edu or by calling our Michigan Medicine Security administrative number: 734-763-5511. I also hope to connect with community members face-to-face during security briefings, huddles and workgroup meetings. 

Q: Outside of work, what types of hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

TC: I have been playing drums for many years and perform traditional Greek music in a band. I have also practiced Aikido, a modern form of martial arts, for 25 years. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling up north in Michigan with my family.