Fazende replaces Smith at Highland Community Hospital

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 5, 2016

NEW JOB: Former Poplarville Police Chief has taken over as the precinct commander of Highland Community Hospital’s public safety department. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

NEW JOB: Former Poplarville Police Chief has taken over as the precinct commander of Highland Community Hospital’s public safety department.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Former Poplarville Police Chief Charlie Fazende has taken over as Highland Community Hospital’s precinct commander of public safety.
Brenda Smith, the facility’s former precinct commander, retired this week. Fazende said his official first day as the new precinct commander of the local hospital’s public safety department was Monday. Prior to that, he worked with Smith to become versed on the job duties.
“I sure was sad to see Brenda go, but I can’t imagine a better person to take over,” Highland Community Hospital Administrator Mark Stockstill said.
Fazende said he applied for the job after retiring from the Poplarville Police Department because retirement was not all he thought it would be.
“I just needed to feel like I was being useful,” Fazende said.
Hospitals within the Forrest Health System all have public safety departments, said Forrest Health System Director of Public Safety Wayne Landers. Fazende will report to the assistant director, Charlie Simms, and Landers. However, day-to-day operations of public safety at Highland will be managed by Fazende, Landers said.
Public safety departments within the Forrest Health System are just like municipal and county law enforcement agencies, Fazende said; they receive the same training and undergo the same accreditation processes.
Additionally, Fazende, like every other officer on staff, has a long history of law enforcement experience. He began his career as a part time deputy with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department in 1988, moving to the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task force the next year and joining the Poplarville Police Department in 1995. Two years later, he was promoted to captain and later appointed chief of Poplarville’s department in the same year.
At the end of 2015, he resigned from his position as chief of the Poplarville Police Department.
Fazende said the job of his department is to ensure the safety of staff and patients at the hospital, in addition to keeping an eye out for any other offenses.
Officers in the department have arresting powers for violations of typical laws, such as possession of controlled substances and drinking alcoholic beverages in the parking lot, and carry pistols and electronic control devices, Fazende said.
“There’s no difference between us and the Picayune Police Department,” Fazende said.
Stockstill said the public safety office is crucial, especially in today’s volatile climate. Stockstill used an incident in Florida that occurred in July of this year where a man was charged with the random fatal shooting of a patient and hospital employee. Stockstill said that with the increased violence against healthcare workers, their public safety office is critical, especially with the potential for explosive situations in the emergency room.
The hospital currently employs four full time officers and six part time officers. Fazende said his position is part time.
The establishment of a public safety department at Picayune’s hospital occurred shortly after Forrest General purchased the hospital in 2006 Stockstill said. It started out small, and has evolved over the years.
There are plans to expand the department, with a golf cart to conduct patrols around the facility and transport immobile patients to and from the hospital and the addition of body cameras to reduce complaints against officers.
Officers in the department undergo 48 hours of continued education each year, and firearms training four times per year, Fazende said.
Landers said of the four applicants, Fazende performed the best.
“We have a pretty challenging procedure for the ‘in basket’ exercise, which focuses on problems we’ve dealt with on the job. Fazende’s logic and reasoning was in-line with our priority order to respond to each problem,” Landers said.

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