BY JOE MARVILLI
Six months after a patient escaped from Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, another patient has found his way out of the facility.
On June 3, Clifford Brown bolted from the center by climbing a double-walled curved fence near an outdoor recreation area. While police picked up Brown a day later, the escape raised concerns from the community about the security at Creedmoor.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and several civic leaders condemned the psychiatric center for allowing another potentially dangerous patient to slip through its security. Brown, who suffers from schizophrenia, was arrested in 2003 on gun charges.
“This is extremely serious that in less than six months, two people have escaped in different fashions. There seems to be a tremendous lack of security,” Avella said.
The first patient who escaped this year was convicted killer Raymond Morillo, who slipped out of Creedmoor on Jan. 28 by switching clothes with one of his visiting friends.
“This is very scary to the civic associations, residents and people who live nearby. This is the second time this has happened. It’s just wrong,” Richard Hellenbrecht, president of Queens Civic Congress, said.
The civic leaders said that there seemed to be a lack of supervision at Creedmoor, given the amount of time it would take a patient to climb a fence that curves inward.
After the Morillo incident in January, the Inspector General’s office said it would conduct an investigation of mental health facilities throughout the State, including Creedmoor. Avella said he has requested that this latest escape be added to the report.
The Office of Mental Health said that it is looking into the matter, though it cannot comment on the pending investigation.
“Escaped patients are a very rare occurrence within the Office of Mental Health’s secure psychiatric centers,” spokesman Benjamin Rosen said. “Any escaped patient is immediately reported to local law enforcement, and all significant incidents which occur within a facility are reported to the Justice Center for the Protection of Persons with Special Needs.”
Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) criticized the OMH for the lack of notification from Creedmoor to the community.
“The policy of not notifying local public schools of a potential danger is unacceptable,” he said.
Former Comptroller John Liu, who has announced a run against Avella for his State Senate seat, echoed the community’s concerns.
“Neighbors and residents of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center have every right to be outraged and deserve answers after repeated failures at this facility,” he said.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.