DCS Fixes Fence, Neighbors Still Have Security Questions
Updated: Thursday, September 4 2014, 12:54 AM CDT
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BORDEAUX, Tenn. -- The Department of Children Services is conducting an internal investigation to learn how 32 juveniles crawled under the fence during an escape overnight Tuesday.
DCS told FOX 17 the fence is fixed, but could not say if the students used force or if they found a weak spot.
The Department of Corrections donated some materials to patch the perimeter.
FOX 17 learned that the Rio Grande Fence Company repaired the fence shortly after the break out. A company spokesperson could not comment on the Woodland Hills escape.
Michelle Stewart lives down the street from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center. In addition to two locks, she uses a broom to secure her front door.
"I just make sure there's something in front of it so we can hear something fall--you know?" Stewart said.
Stewart's sister Melissa Cook isn't convinced the teens won't get out again.
"This is not the very first time this happened, so if they can get more police down there and investigate if the fence was actually broken, maybe we wouldn't have this problem," Cook said.
Last May, several teens escaped their dorms, but weren't able to leave the grounds. Since then, DCS and the Tennessee Department of Corrections installed stronger windows and wire mesh.
During the latest escape, DCS spokesperson Rob Johnson said the teens got out a different way. The DCS superintendent told FOX 17 the escapees left their unlocked dorms one at a time and entered a common area. Undetected, the kids crawled under the fence. DCS is still investigating if the effort was planned.
During the escape, one guard was hit by an object and another was knocked to the round. Neither was seriously hurt, and the two continued working their regular shifts.
On the night of the escape, 16 guards were on duty to supervise 87 inmates throughout the grounds.
"I could see 3-4 breaking out, but as many as there were yesterday, there isn't any reason for it," Cook said.
As of Sept. 3, there are 26 staff vacancies at Woodland Hills — 14 of those positions are for children’s services officers.
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