LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Officials with the Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Center said an officer was fired Thursday after an incident involving a resident earlier in the week.
County officials announced Friday that the officer had used “violent and unacceptable language toward a JDC [Juvenile Detention Center] resident” in a Feb. 6 incident.
In the incident, officials said three officers had subdued a JDC resident using force. Following department protocol, the incident was reported. The law requires a juvenile resident to be assessed after force is used, officials said.
Medical personnel assessed the inmate, who was determined to be in good condition and a report was filed with the facility director.
Officials said on Feb. 7 the director interviewed the resident, who claimed excessive force had been used. That claim triggered a required internal investigation, and the Arkansas State Police were notified. The officers involved in the Feb. 6 incident were put on administrative leave while the investigation continued.
County officials said investigators found that one detention center officer used “violent and unacceptable language” during the incident. The officer’s employment was terminated on Feb. 9, and ASP investigators said the investigation findings were turned over to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.
Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde said the investigation and actions reflect the county’s “zero tolerance” policy.
“Protecting juveniles in our care and treating them with respect is not just an expectation of our juvenile officers–it’s a requirement, and we have zero tolerance for anything less,” Hyde said. “As always, our first concern is for our residents’ safety. This resident required physical restraint by our officers, so the resident would not harm himself or others.”
Hyde said the county was placing an increased emphasis on training for detention center officers.
“What we’ve learned from this incident is that de-escalation requires regular training. Therefore, we have contacted the Sheriff’s Department about enrolling our officers in the department’s crisis intervention training. Once training begins, we will continue to enroll officers until all have been trained,” he said.
The news of this incident comes just a couple of weeks after a facility leader resigned before being charged in a sexual assault case.
On Jan. 24, the director of the Juvenile Detention Center Ronald Routh resigned as the ASP investigated charges of his actions at the facility. Records show Roth was charged on Jan. 30 in Pulaski County with three counts of harassment and one count of sexual assault to which he pleaded not guilty.