Hawaii State Hospital's neighbors say they don't feel safe in their homes

Published: Nov. 17, 2017 at 2:51 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 at 11:25 AM HST
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(Image: San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office)
(Image: San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office)

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Angry Kaneohe residents gathered Thursday night to quiz the state on what's being done to address safety concerns about the Hawaii State Hospital.

"We need a timely warning when things go wrong," one attendee said.

"I've called the police more times than they've called the police about people running around. That hasn't changed," said resident Tom Long. "I brought this up at the other board meeting. Nothing's changed."

The concerns, raised at the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board's monthly meeting, come a day after Hawaii State Hospital escapee Randall Saito was captured in California.

Saito escaped from the Hawaii State Hospital Sunday morning, called a cab to pick him up at Kaneohe Community Park, flew to Maui on a chartered flight and caught a Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Jose, Calif.

He arrived in California on Sunday night, two hours before the State Hospital informed police that he was missing.

Some who attended the meeting said they didn't feel safe in their own homes. They also told hospital Administrator William May they were critical of the 10-hour gap between the time Saito left the facility -- and when they were told about it.

The hospital is the target of a class-action lawsuit seeking damages from the state, claiming that employees are routinely attacked by mentally ill patients.

In a jailhouse interview Thursday, Randall Saito himself says he didn't feel safe at the hospital: "It's not safe in Hawaii State Hospital," he said. "I have never assaulted the staff or patients, even though I have been assaulted by staff and patients."

Those at the meeting pressed May about preventing future escapes.

"I can't guarantee you that this will never happen again. That's impossible," May told the gathering. "We are doing everything possible within our power to minimize — to minimize the possibility of something like this happening again."

May said he would be meeting next week with neighborhood board Chairman Mo Radke and the administration at Windward Community College.

Kaneohe Neighborhood Board member Daniel Kaanana also expressed his frustration.

"Honestly at the heart of this whole situation, it's a breach of trust. And it's the trust of the community. It's in your own backyard. It's our backyard."

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