Lockdown lifted at juvenile hall in Downey a day after ‘major disturbance’

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DOWNEY — The lockdown was lifted Saturday night at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey amidst additional security measures initiated by Los Angeles County probation officials the day after a major disturbance at the facility involving 13 youths.

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Lifting the lockdown will enable limited movement of youth for meals, schooling and recreational activities at the pre-disposition youth facility, Interim Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa said.

Visiting hours were cancelled Saturday and probation staff notified most family and caregivers in advance, he said. Those who showed up at the facility were allowed to call their loved ones from the Los Padrinos reception area.

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Viera Rosa noted he plans to ask the county to speed up hiring of Safety and Security specialists, a new job classification that will allow the Probation Department to hire off-duty or retired peace officers for external security purposes.

“The safe operations of Los Padrinos ultimately comes down to having the appropriate level of officers and staff on every shift, day in and day out,” Viera Rosa said. “This new classification will help us reach that level by using trained and experienced peace officers in support of our probation staff. This will allow us to increase our overall staffing so that we can provide the programming that our youth deserve.”

A juvenile inmate at the facility briefly escaped during a late Friday brawl with detention staff members that prompted a large police response.

The youth “was immediately apprehended by officers from the Probation Department’s Special Enforcement Operations unit. Since he is 18 years old, the department has asked the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to book him as an adult,” county officials said Saturday.

The remaining 12 youths were placed in individual rooms at Los Padrinos under one-on-one supervision. No serious injuries to youth or staff were reported during the incident, and a subsequent headcount found all 273 youth at the facility present and accounted for, according to the Probation Department, which runs the facility.

Viera Rosa ordered that beginning immediately, a department bureau chief — among the highest-ranking officers in the department — be present to supervise operations during every shift at Los Padrinos.

Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall reopened this month with 274 pre-disposition youths previously housed at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Boyle Heights transferred to the 26-acre campus in Downey.

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