By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some workers at Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center were protesting outside the facility on Wednesday, asking for security to keep them safe.

The protest comes after a series of assaults at the facility which houses psychiatric patients, many of them sent directly from local jails.

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Picketers at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center say the working conditions here are dangerous and they say recent assaults here are proof of that.

Patient Andrew Taggart is charged with the felony assault of a nurse here on May 10.

“She was taken to the hospital that night, she was unconscious for multiple hours and she was in the hospital for at least a week,” said Carrie Mortrud, a registered nurse with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

According to this police report Sunday night, Taggert violently assaulted and punched another female employee.

“She had bruises on her face,” said Tina Johnson, another employee.

Johnson is a friend of the second injured woman.

“It is not a safe place to work anymore,” said Johnson.

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Other workers like Jennell Pettit agree.

“I don’t want to get a head injury before I retire here,” said Pettit.

Employees met yesterday with the state commissioner of human services who said in a statement that, “safety is a shared priority, and I’m confident that together we can address those concerns in a meaningful way.”

Employees tell us the conditions have deteriorated here since Anoka Police stopped providing security in December.

The Anoka Police Chief says the security arrangement ended in part because officers were limited in what kinds of actions they could take in what is considered a hospital situation.

As for Taggart, sources tell us he was moved to the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center where there is more security, but WCCO could not confirm that because the state considers Taggart a patient and not an inmate.

A Judge has ordered Taggart to undergo a competency evaluation.

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His next court appearance is July 10.

Esme Murphy