Friday, August 8, 2014

Police investigate 'incident' at Spring Creek

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 4:48 PM

click to enlarge Spring Creek: An 'incident' on Thursday led to seven youth being charged with new crimes. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Spring Creek: An 'incident' on Thursday led to seven youth being charged with new crimes.

A riot, or "incident," as state officials term it, erupted at Spring Creek Youth Services Center on Thursday afternoon leading to the arrest of seven youth, according to Springs Police spokesman Lt. Catherine Buckley.

Dan Drayer, communications director for the Department of Human Services, which oversees the center, says the staff was "medically assessed and cleared" but he didn't say if they were taken to hospitals for the assessment. No youth were injured, he says.

The incident broke out as 12:38 p.m., and police were called at 1:36 p.m. The first officer arrived at 1:59 p.m., after which two other officers were called to assist with investigating the incident. Police didn't leave until almost midnight.

"We can’t interview kids without a parent present," Buckley says, "so it can take a long time to investigate." Here's the police call screen showing how the riot unfolded:

Says Drayer:
There was an incident involving four staff and seven youths. They were working on a project at the time. The incident was resolved within the facility per procedure once staff were able to resolve the matter, which they did, then police were contacted, and that happens any time, and police responded and assessed the situation. There were no significant injuries.
Drayer says the situation was fully resolved before police were called and that calling the police is simply procedure." Whenever there’s an incident police are called," he says. "It was addressed, resolved and police notified. It’s procedure, because the staff, and that is their job, to keep the youth safe, and it is their job to resolve any situations, and to contact the police, because of the population we’re serving there."

Draper says the facility was fully staffed on Thursday but didn't say how many people were on duty.

The incident comes as state officials assure the public of the safety of the facility at 3190 E. Las Vegas St., which holds youth offenders under the age of 21 who are either convicted of crimes as juveniles and are serving sentences or are being held pending resolution of charges against them.

Colorado Springs School District 11 has pulled out of teaching at the center; some teachers have expressed concerns for their safety. Harrison School District 2 will assume educational responsibility for the coming school year.

The Gazette has written several stories about the problems and the steps the state says it's taken, which include appointing a new director to the center, among other things.

But problems persist. While Springs Police have received seven Priority 1 calls to the center this calendar year, it's worth noting that the "disturbance" that drew three cops and led seven juveniles to be charged with rioting and assault on Thursday is listed as a Priority 2 call. The reason is that after police realized the issued had been resolved, the call was downgraded, Buckley says.

Police calls-for-service records show there have been seven sexual assault calls to the facility this year (most recently on Aug. 5 and 6), 14 assaults, three escapes, one indecent exposure and one "assist (urgent)" that isn't further explained on the call log.

While Drayer insisted there was no "riot," charges of causing a riot were cited by Magistrate D. Denise Peacock in court when six boys and one girl appeared in green detention center clothing. The girl wore handcuffs, while the boys' handcuffs were attached to chains around their waists, and their ankles were shackled as well. All were stony-faced as Peacock read them their Miranda rights.

The youth were ordered detained, but it wasn't clear where they would be housed — back in Spring Creek or elsewhere.

After the hearing, Pam Beshara said her son wasn't to blame but that he got caught up in a fight. She says he told her he was merely walking upstairs where the fight originated and was pulled into the melee. Her son, 16, is at Spring Creek for violating probation on a burglary charge, she says. 

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