Chaos broke out at the Broward Juvenile Detention Center when some of the inmates managed to take over the facility. 7’s Brian Entin has exclusive video of the riot in tonight’s 7 Investigates.
This is where juveniles who get in trouble get locked up. And from the outside, it looks safe, secure and quiet.
But this is what you don’t see — chaos on the inside.
A riot in the Broward County Juvenile Detention Center.
Teens take over parts of the facility. One by one, they try to kick in doors, and eventually, they’re successful.
A guard on duty at the time remembers it all.
Former guard: “One kick, and out the door!”
The juveniles are also on camera attacking this guard.
Look closely, you see the teens surrounding him.
The guard was hurt, and says there was no backup.
Former guard: “One grabbed my radio so I couldn’t call for assistance. The other one punched me. And then he told the other juveniles, ‘Get his keys! Get his keys! They are in his pockets!’”
The riot happened in September and the guard has since quit.
We’re not showing his face because he’s still in the security business.
Former guard: “So everything was going crazy. People were being hit. Punched.”
According to police reports, the detention center staff “lost control of the juveniles” and the teens “had essentially taken control.”
The Fort Lauderdale SWAT Team had to be called in.
Former guard: “I was thinking, ‘Oh my God. The other officers in the hallway are going to get killed.’”
That riot was more than three months ago, but the chaos here hasn’t ended. Three weeks ago, there was another riot when teens broke doors and locks. Again, Fort Lauderdale Police had to be called in.
Gordon Weekes, chief assistant public defender: “It is very troubling to see that type of behavior is going on inside a secure, locked facility.”
The public defender’s office represents many of the youth locked up here. They say old, faulty locks in the detention center allowed the inmates to break out. And riots are part of a bigger problem with the juvenile system.
Gordon Weekes: “It is easy to point the finger at the children. And say they are bad kids and bad kids will do bad things, but the reality is these kids are not monsters. These are children that will respond to the appropriate approach.”
Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice would not talk on camera, but in a statement says they have prioritized security improvements including replacing the locks and doors.
And they have since decreased the number of teens inside the facility.
Former guard: “I figured this was enough for me because I honestly thought they were going to kill me.”
The Broward State Attorney is prosecuting the juveniles who attacked this former guard. And they are looking into what needs to be changed inside the detention center to make it safer.