City Council candidate Joseph Conannon is calling for action in response to residents’ complaints about Creedmoor patients who wander freely, causing distress in the neighborhoods surrounding the psychiatric facility. He is calling on the state Inspector General’s office to look into the issue.
Concannon, a Republican, is running for the seat held by Councilman Barry Grodenchik’s (D-Oakland Gardens) in the November general election. As a former NYPD captain, he has touted his history in law enforcement as a testament to his understanding of how “delicate” the matter is.
“This is one of the most serious situations at the forefront of our Oakland Gardens, Bellerose, Queens Village and Glen Oaks neighborhoods, and why I am acting on behalf of the community immediately,” Concannon said. “The oversight of the care and supervision of patients at the Creedmoor facility has fallen into question. Recently, patients have broken church windows, assaulted patrons in McDonald’s, exposed themselves to residents, aggressively panhandled and harassed people for money and, in some cases, engaged in public defecation within sight of neighborhood children.”
Concannon also hoped the city Mental Health Committee would look into the matter as well, and the state Office of Mental Health issued a statement outlining how it is currently working to address the concerns of residents.
“The Office of Mental Health takes local community concerns seriously and investigates all reports of misconduct in the areas surrounding our psychiatric centers,” Creedmoor spokesman James Plastiras said. “The administration at Creedmoor has met with and continues to work with local civic associations, the 105th Precinct, not-for-profits and other stakeholders to address their concerns. We have increased patrols by our own safety department in the surrounding community and are coordinating with the local precinct to identify individuals who have been responsible for these acts.”
Creedmoor patients have a long history of roaming the streets of Queens unattended with the occasional resident of the facility being listed by NYPD as missing.
“Taking into account my former position, I understand and appreciate the delicate nature of this situation, that these are individuals who need the care provided by New York state and its contractors,” Concannon said. “However, there must be better oversight and balance of the needs of the facility and how it affects the safety and integrity of our community. Residents have come to me because they are concerned about the daily occurrences, which have not abated and the declining quality of life in the community.”
In 2015, rumors surfaced of Gov. Andrew Cuomo hoping to use vacant space in Creedmoor to house members of the homeless population, but these were met with intense opposition from community leaders and elected officials. After calls between the governor’s office and Grodenchik’s office, it was confirmed the state would not be using the facility for this purpose.
Some security concerns were also raised in 2015 when a convict who was transferred to Creedmoor after serving a 15-year prison sentence escaped from the grounds.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall
©2017 Community News Group
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