DJJ to get bill for riot response, Polk sheriff says - WFLA News Channel 8

DJJ to get bill for riot response, Polk sheriff says

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters is scheduled to tour the Avon Park Youth Academy on Tuesday after a riot broke there on Saturday night.

Florida DJJ will get a bill from the Polk County Sheriff's office for its response to the riot, the Polk County Sheriff said Monday.

About 75 deputies and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd responded to the Avon Park Youth Academy, where residents were reportedly smashing windows and driving facility golf carts in a riot that lasted several hours. The bill from the Sheriff's office will cover the deputies as well as other expenses such as helicopter use.

The fight at the facility started over some "Cup O'Noodles" soup when residents playing basketball made a wager and the loser didn't pay up, the sheriff's office said.

"For less than a dollar, less than a dollar worth of noodles, we ended up with a riot and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, worth of damage," Judd said, holding up a package of noodles at a news conference on Monday.

Some juveniles will face felony charges in connection with the riot, he said. Judd said detectives are still determining who will be charged and with what offenses, though they don't have the assistance of video evidence since the facility didn't have surveillance video.

Judd said both DJJ and the private company running the facility, G4S, were cooperative with the sheriff's office. He said all 138 residents came out peacefully when deputies, some dressed in riot gear, arrived.

Staff of G4S were engaged but "overpowered" and "overwhelmed," he said. They are not allowed to carry pepper spray or similar tools because of a DJJ rule, he said.

"I philosophically disagree with them (DJJ) and they with me," he said. "And they would argue that they're right and I would argue that I got 138 reasons why they need a different rule."

Florida DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters said "the juvenile justice practice is to not use tasers or any type of chemical restraint on juveniles."

"That is an industry standard that has not only been applied in the state of Florida, but pretty much nationally," she said.

Walters said juveniles from the facility are already taking part in cleanup at the site, where the damage involves a lot of broken windows but doesn't appear to be as severe as initially thought.

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