Security boosted at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey after riot, escape

City News Service
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Riot breaks out at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey
A riot broke out at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey late Friday night, triggering a lockdown of the facility.

DOWNEY, Calif. (CNS) -- Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall remained on lockdown Saturday and Los Angeles County probation officials instituted additional security measures following a riot at the facility involving 13 youths late Friday.

A juvenile inmate at the Downey facility briefly escaped during a brawl with detention staff members that prompted a large police response, but was back at the facility in short order.

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 have been 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 Los Angeles County Probation Department, which runs the facility.

Interim Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa has 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.

He has also ordered that OC spray be temporarily issued to all permanent staff until the facility is fully stabilized, a decision he will revisit in a few days.

"Any time you move a large number of youths, especially to a new facility as we have in the last week or two, there is a potential for problems and we plan for those," Viera Rosa said. "But Friday night's disturbance was an emergency that required an immediate and strong response. I'm thankful that no youth were seriously hurt, and with the help of other law enforcement agencies, we were able to reestablish order."

Viera Rosa said the incident began around 8 p.m., when seven youths assaulted staff and broke open an exterior door of their living unit. They allegedly broke the window of a second unit, allowing six others to join them on the facility grounds. The oldest youth climbed a wall and escaped onto an adjacent golf course, where he was immediately apprehended, officials said.

Officers from the Downey Police Department, Downey Fire Department, South Gate Police Department and deputies from the sheriff's Lakewood station responded to the juvenile hall Friday night.

Viera Rosa also asked Michael Minor, a private security consultant and former director of the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation's Division of Juvenile Justice, to work with staff members as they stabilize operations.

"I want to thank the law enforcement officers who responded and got this situation under control quickly," County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement issued Saturday. "It is my understanding that all the youth have been accounted for. We need to understand exactly what happened last night at Los Padrinos. I expect our interim Chief Probation Officer to get to the bottom of what went wrong and make assurances to the Board of Supervisors and the City of Downey that this is not going to happen again."

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.