Riot injures guard, Bunkie Police Chief speaks out against Acadiana Center for Youth

Second riot in three weeks at youth facility
Many people are on edge after a riot at a Cenla youth facility.
Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 4:34 PM CDT
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BUNKIE, La. (KALB) - Continuing coverage on a story we first brought you last week, many people are on edge after a riot at a Central Louisiana youth facility. The Bunkie Police Chief is speaking out in an exclusive interview as a last-ditch effort to see change at the facility.

A guard is recovering after a riot broke out at the Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie Thursday. Bunkie Police Chief Scott Ferguson tells us this has been the second riot in less than three weeks at the facility.

“They had five dorms loose and they were fighting and trying to escape out the fences,” said Ferguson.

Bunkie police and other local law enforcement responded to both riots.

“A guard was jumped again. They beat the guard down, a female guard, took her keys and we responded also again,” said Ferguson.

However, Bunkie police and the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office weren’t allowed in for almost an entire hour.

“We sat out there for about 45 minutes, listening to a female hollering for help and they would not allow us in there,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson tells News Channel Five that he believes the administration is ill-prepared for any emergency.

“They have no protocol. When we go there, nobody knows what to do. And there’s no leadership there, the administration is never there.”

The Bunkie Police Department has reached out multiple times to help the facility set up an emergency plan. Ferguson says the Acadiana Center for Youth promised to have a protocol set in place months ago. Since then, he says he hasn’t heard back.

“We as law enforcement are showing up and trying to take care of their business and calling Baton Rouge and calling people, trying to see what they’ll allow us to do,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson says the biggest problem is the absence of administration.

“This state facility, the administration they have now is ill-prepared for anything that they have going on. They’ve had two escapes and two riots that we know about and the administration is never there.”

Chief Ferguson

Multiple guards are coming into the police department to file charges. However, the facility doesn’t even fall under Bunkie police jurisdiction.

“We have guards on a regular basis come in here that want to file changes for being assaulted or attacked by these juveniles and we have to send them, you know tell them you’ve got to go to APSO, Avoyelles Parish Sheriff’s Office because that’s not in our jurisdiction,” said Ferguson.

The facility itself is something Ferguson says he’d compare to a resort.

“They got TV’s, Xbox’s, gyms, they got schools, they got everything they need and these kids are not taking advantage of it,” said Ferguson.

Officers at the police department say something needs to be done within the juvenile justice system before someone within city limits gets hurt.

“Eventually somebody’s going to get killed in there. Either one of the residents, a guard, or when they’re escaping like they do on a regular basis, somebody in the public’s going to get killed.”

Chief Ferguson

Chief Ferguson is sitting down with the secretary over at the youth facility to discuss emergency protocols Monday. News Channel Five reached out to the Office of Juvenile Justice for comment on the matter. They say:

“On the evening of June 18, 2020, youth from three dormitories at Acadiana Center for Youth were involved in a minor disturbance. The campus was secured after the incident, and remains secure today. As a result of the incident, one staff was taken to the hospital for evaluation and released. OJJ is evaluating the circumstances surrounding the disturbance. Appropriate changes to operating procedures to prevent future incidents and to assure safety of staff and youth will be implemented. ‘OJJ’s rehabilitative mission must be fulfilled in an environment that is safe for the youth, staff and communities that are home to our secure care facilities,' stated Interim Deputy Secretary Dustin Bickham. ‘In the coming days, I will be working closely with facility staff and community leaders to assure that we are successful in meeting that mission.‘ The disturbance is being fully investigated by OJJ Investigative Services staff with support of local law enforcement as deemed necessary. As probable cause is determined, arrests will be made.”

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