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VOL. 132 | NO. 255 | Tuesday, December 26, 2017

UTHSC’s New Police HQ To Serve Entire Medical District

By Patrick Lantrip

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With multiple multimillion-dollar projects sprouting up not only on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center campus but throughout the Memphis Medical District as a whole, one project hopes to tie them all together – UTHSC’s $20 million security investment.

At the heart of the security upgrade is a new state-of-the-art headquarters for the UTHSC Campus Police Department that will be located in a currently unused audiology and speech building at 807 Jefferson Ave.

“Having a police department that basically functions like a precinct of the Memphis Police Department is what we envisioned for the Medical District,” UTHSC’s executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer Dr. Ken Brown said. “We’ll have a 24-hour dispatch station where we can communicate with the Real Time Crime Center in Shelby County, have traffic light cam accessibility, and connectivity to all the hospitals in the Medical District.”

The $2 million, two-story facility will be home to training areas, dispatch space, conference rooms, an indoor firing range in the basement, UTHSC’s Parking Services and an MPD Community Policing Unit.

UTHSC plans to hire additional police and security officers to fulfill its mission of protecting the campus and the larger Memphis Medical District. (Submitted)

Prior to planning new security upgrades, Brown said the university recruited Anthony Berryhill, a 32-year Memphis Police Department veteran and former No. 2 cop in the city, as its police chief.

Upon his arrival, Berryhill said his No. 1 priority was to change the mindset of his officers and let them know it’s not a matter of if something is going to happen in the Medical District, but when something is going to happen that they will have to respond to.

“We really don’t have a lot if incidents that take place in the Medical District, and when you’re in a work environment that is not as high-impact as the Memphis Police Department, people tend to get a little relaxed in their way of handling business,” Berryhill said. “I want to make certain that I change the mindset and raise the level of training up to a standard that when something does happen we are all mentally and physically prepared to respond appropriately.”

Currently, the UTHSC Campus Police Department has 30 commissioned police officers who have the same rights and authority as Memphis police officers and Shelby County deputies, along with 26 security officers. Next year, Berryhill hopes to hire five more police officers, four more security officers and an additional dispatcher.

“Chief Berryhill has put together a strategic plan to incrementally grow the staff of the University Police Department over the next few years,” Brown said. “It’s a really robust vision for the nucleus for what security will be for the Medical District.”

The $20 million in security upgrades is just the latest step of a nine-figure overhaul of UTHSC’s campus, including a $37 million medical simulation facility, the Plough Center, a $50 million building to house the College of Dentistry and a sterile manufacturing facility where researchers can conduct phase one and phase two trials for new drugs.

“This completes roughly $400 million in capital improvements over the past five to seven years,” Brown said. “And we probably have another $300 to $400 million in planning on the drawing board right now that we’re trying to get into the capital funding pipeline as we are completing these projects.”

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