Gov. Gregoire "gravely concerned" about killer's escape - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gov. Gregoire "gravely concerned" about killer's escape, DSHS policy under review

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire has released a statement on the search for a patient from Eastern State Hospital who escaped from a ESH field trip to the Spokane County Fair.

"I am gravely concerned about the serious incident that took place yesterday in Spokane.  I understand what the residents in the area are feeling.  I am asking the same questions that the residents of the area are asking:  How do we catch this person as soon as possible? Why was he allowed to take such a trip?  Why did they go to a location that was so heavily populated with families?

"DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus is in Spokane and leading the investigation, and I support the actions she has taken in response to this incident.  I am pleased that she has ordered an immediate lockdown on hospital outings involving these types of patients at the hospital. 

"Secretary Dreyfus has asked Chief Batiste and the Washington State Patrol to assist local law enforcement with the search for the escaped patient.  She is also ordering Eastern State Hospital Thursday to conduct an immediate critical incident review over the next 30 days to determine what went wrong.  This review will include an examination of hospital policy about patient outings and a mitigation plan to prevent incidents like this in the future.  

"I am confident Secretary Dreyfus will develop a new approach that will ensure that something like this never happens again."

Other legislators are also questioning ESH's decision to allow Phillip A. Paul to go on the trip.

Rep. Matt Shea (R-Mead) said, "It's outrageous that security was so inept that Mr. Paul, who is officially regarded as ‘criminally insane,' was able to just slip away from the group. Of more critical concern to me is the issue of why a vicious killer with a record of horrific, violent crime, was allowed into a family setting like the fairgrounds in the first place. You can't come away with any opinion other than his escape reflects the height of official irresponsibility."

Rep. Kevin Parker (R-Spokane) said, "As a father of three small children, I do my job to protect them. It is the state's duty to protect its citizens as well. The fact that someone who is mentally ill with a history of violence and trying to escape was taken on a field trip to a county fair is deplorable. The policies of this agency need to be examined with a fine-tooth comb."

Rep. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) said, "Why in the world would anyone take a mentally unstable individual, who violently murdered someone and is on medication, to a location that has large crowds, screaming kids, rides that throw off equilibrium, games that include shot guns and throw darts, and an exhibit with mirrors that distort bodies and frighten people? It is simply irrational."

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