Creedmoor patients annoy Glen Oaks 1

According to Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich, the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center should develop a “code of conduct” for patients that addresses hygiene and dressing. Patients from the facility walking around Glen Oaks have annoyed some in the area.

Matt Kruger does not think Glen Oaks is the place to raise his kids anymore.

A picture he sent to the Chronicle shows a man at a bus stop with his pants down, wiping himself with fecal matter on the ground. Others show people loitering, a man heedlessly walking through traffic, and someone on the ground looking asleep at the Little Neck Parkway and Union Turnpike bus stop.

He thinks Long Island may be a better place. Kruger said in an email his family is “100 percent out of here once my son finishes his school year,” adding, “I’m trying to move now.”

Kruger says that the people are more visible in commercial parts of the Glen Oaks area. One man outside Key Food, Kruger said, “got nasty with my wife about how we don’t give him money.” He added that others have aggressively panhandled.

According to area leaders, many of the people panhandling are from the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village.

Police for the state Office of Mental Health, which runs Creedmoor, are responsible for the patients; the 105th Precinct has been working with them on the issue. The hospital’s management met with the precinct, Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich and others about patients disturbing the community.

“We understand that Creedmoor is a huge facility and it provides great benefits to people who are mentally ill and it houses a lot of different programs, including the SNAP Senior Center for now,” Grodenchik said. “But it also has a responsibility to the surrounding community.”

“When it comes to the mentally ill, you’re going to have a whole gambit of different types of crime that are committed,” said Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, the chief of the 105th Precinct. Typically, they are “very low offenses and other types of situations.” Like panhandling. The commanding officer denied that the infractions amounted to “any big crime wave or anything like that,” though.

According to Schiff, a “plan of action” has been formed to deal with the situation.

“If the community sees someone on a regular basis, let’s say panhandling at Union Turnpike and 260th Street, well then they would contact the NYPD or the Community Affairs Office or myself,” he said, adding that people also have the number for the Office of Mental Health police.

If the OMH cops get the call first, they “pretty much take the lead on it,” he added.

Schiff added that when the mental health police get a call that does not involve a Creedmoor patient, they call the 105th.

Although people get upset that some being treated at the psychiatric center beg for money, Schiff said, there is nothing illegal about it.

“It’s not against the law,” he explained. In any case, the police can talk to them: “We have common-law right of inquiry,” Schiff said.

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) pointed out that while panhandling is protected speech, it can easily cross a line.

“Clearly, any kind of physical contact, any kind of major verbal abuse, that will not be tolerated in our community,” he said.

In a statement, the OMH discussed the steps that it has taken to address the situation.

“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,” OMH Director of Public Information James Plastiras said in an email. “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.”

According to Grodenchik and Weprin, it has been agreed that civic associations in and around Glen Oaks will have meetings about the issue on a quarterly basis.

While happy with the precinct’s handling of the issue, Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich says the psychiatric center could do better.

“I’d like to see Creedmoor take a more aggressive approach,” he said. “They can work out a code of conduct that they have to teach these individuals.”

Many patients leaving the campus look disheveled, Friedrich added. “Do they understand there’s an appropriate way to dress? There’s hygiene that must be attended to.”

Joseph Concannon, Grodenchik’s Republican challenger in this November’s Council election, has taken to Twitter to hit his opponent on the issue, tweeting out photos of individuals who appear to be mentally ill and criticizing the councilman. “Glen Oaks never had a homeless problem but this fella is now a fixture @BarryGrodenchik -out of touch @errollouis,” Concannon tweeted in one picture with a disheveled-looking man.

The situation, Concannon said in an interview, has “pitted the community against the patients at Creedmoor because of the crimes being committed in the community and our elected officials have been so irresponsible in letting this go on and fester for years, our elected officials, especially our city councilman, who claims to have such high regard for the mentally ill and emotionally disturbed.”

In response to the criticism, Grodenchik’s campaign took a shot at Concannon’s tweets.

“Councilman Grodenchik has worked with his colleagues on the NYC Council’s General Welfare Committee, the New York City Human Resources Administration and with community and civic leaders to combat New York City’s homelessness problem,” a campaign spokesman said in an email. “This citywide crisis demands compassion not the demonization of people, many of them families with children and many who work full-time, who are struggling through extremely difficult times.”

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