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Creedmoor boss promises Avella better security

Stakeholders met last week to discuss security at the Creedmoor campus in Bellerose (pictured above).
TimesLedger Newspapers

Community members are cautiously optimistic that the security situation — or, rather, the lack of security situation — at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Campus in Bellerose is going to improve after meeting with the head of the state’s Office of Mental Health last week.

“I think his exact words were that they ‘let the situation get away’ from them,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who set up the meeting with OMH Commissioner Mike Hogan and various other stakeholders. “He admitted that security is lax and recognized that more needs to be done.”

The Creedmoor campus is split into two sections by Union Turnpike, with the OMH’s inpatient hospital on the northern campus, which is locked down by its security personnel. The southern campus, however, is home to a number of programs run by other state departments and various nonprofits, each responsible for providing its own security.

Neighbors have long complained that the lack of a comprehensive security plan on the southern campus leaves patients free to act unruly on the edges of the campus, which abut nearby residential neighborhoods. They also say the campus, which houses programs for people dealing with chemical dependencies, has become a magnet for drug dealers who can reach a lucrative clientele at Creedmoor with little or no security deterrent.

Deputy Inspector Joseph Courtesis, of the 105th Precinct, told community members in June that 911 calls to the campus were spiking and that on average he had to send officers to Creedmoor six times a day.

Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association, said Creedmoor’s executive director has pledged to clear brush around the southern campus, install lighting and increase security patrols as well as look into manning a gate at Creedmoor’s main entrance.

“She said there are no plans to add security at this point,” Toner said. “But she said they’re going to increase security patrols. I’m not sure how that’s going to work.”

Toner said two of the outpatient programs have plans to leave the campus within the next few years and hoped that when the state looks to fill those buildings, it will be an opportunity to rectify some of the security lapses.

“Part of our wishes is that we be included in that process,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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