YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s no secret that police face new challenges as violent crime rises. Hospitals are also facing new challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, there’s a new effort to bring the two kinds of organizations closer together.

York City Police and WellSpan say they’re jointly launching what’s called a hospital resource officer or HRO program. It’s beginning at WellSpan York Hospital and other Wellspan facilities within the city.

“Having dedicated officers on site who are specially trained to work in this environment and who know our leaders, staff, and our facilities, is key to fostering an environment of mutual support to maintain the security and safety of our patients, visitors, and team members. A safe environment is critically important to a healing environment,” said Victoria Diamond, senior vice president, WellSpan Health Central Region, president, WellSpan York Hospital.

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There’ll be a sergeant and three officers, a total of four York Police to start.

The idea is that having an officer at a hospital all the time protects the hospital at a time when hospitals are under all kinds of pressure. But it also means that when a crime victim or suspect goes to the hospital, rather than an officer somewhere else having to rush to the hospital and figure out where everyone is in order to interview them, an officer who knows the hospital well is already there.

They’ll work with WellSpan leadership and security on emergency preparedness planning, creating and implementing access control measures at the entrance and exit points. This is all in an effort to help with reducing violence across the city.

The program is being paid for by WellSpan in a three-year agreement. They also have hospitals in other Midstate towns like Gettysburg, Lebanon, and Chambersburg.

“We believe this on-site presence will increase our opportunities to interact and build relationships with York citizens by providing an immediate point of contact for anyone at the hospital needing police services,” said Michael Muldrow, York City police commissioner

Officials tell abc27 it’s possible the program will expand to those areas, but that they’re now focused on York.