AZ mental hospital patient escapes hours after ABC15 investigation exposes security risk

PHOENIX - Officials have confirmed a patient briefly escaped on Tuesday from the state's mental hospital.

According to a hospital spokesperson, the patient was able to get away just before noon. The patient was then apprehended minutes later about 500 feet from the hospital gate.

Sources tell ABC15, the patient was able to break through a gym window and exit the Phoenix hospital complex, located at 24th Street and Van Buren.

The incident comes less than a day after an ABC15 Investigation exposed that hospital made deep cuts to security last year.

A move that insiders said will put the public in danger.

Tuesday's escape is the fourth from the hospital since the security cuts began.

The patient was classified as a civil patient, meaning they have been court ordered to the hospital for treatment of mental illness.

Officials said the patient never got out of the sight of staff.

The patient's name was not released. So information about the patient's background or any criminal history was not available.

In 2012, the hospital cut more than half of their security force -- 60 positions -- and decided to shift those jobs to direct patient care positions. Our investigation found the hospital has been unable to fill those new jobs.

In response to our investigation, Will Humble, the director of the Arizona health department, published a blog post Tuesday about security changes at the hospital.

He touted the hospital's new approach and wrote, "recent changes in security are making the Hospital a better place for patients, staff and the public."



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