By Antwan Harris
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- A small crowd of Erlanger Police officers picket early Monday morning outside the hospital after a notice came down saying their services would no longer be needed, at least as officers.

Board members will vote to outsource the security to Walden Security Firm.

Rodney Patton, an Erlanger Police officer, said he's seen the force reduced to half in the last month.

"As the outsourcing has begun we have been whittled down to about 14," says Patton.

Patton said he may soon be out of a job, but in a statement released by Erlanger reads, "The security officers, who have provided dedicated service to our operation, will be given the opportunity to apply for employment with Walden security."

Patton said that's no guarantee he'll have a job soon.

"You have seen multiple shootings come into the facility and hospital police stand ready to protect the patients and citizens that enter the doors," says Patton.

Erlanger's statement didn't state if the decision was solely financially based, but said the decision should address safety concerns saying, "Walden's hiring model ensures Erlanger a staffing complement that includes armed officers and officers with arrest capabilities."

Johnny Sanders a 35-year veteran with Memorial Hospital, has been unarmed since he took the security job.

Security director Glenn Johnson said Memorial pondered the idea of outsourcing and says more hospitals are moving in that direction.

"We considered it 2 years ago and it was more cost effective to stay in-house," says Johnson.

Memorial's security takes up less than 1-percent of the hospital's budget, but Johnson says the personal connection has made his department priceless.

"We know the community, we know the employees of the hospital, we know the police in that area and have a good relationship with them," says Johnson.

Walden is the 16 largest security firm in the United States.

The final approval will be held March 24th. Walden would over in May.