Union calls for widespread changes in Brooklyn juvenile detention center following violent attack
A workers' union is calling for widespread changes at a Brooklyn juvenile detention center following a violent attack last week.
A total of 17 staff members were injured after chaos broke out at the Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville - and the workers' union says this isn't the first time its members have been hurt on the job due to violence.
SSEU Local 371 spoke exclusively to News 12 after the chaos. All 17 are now on leave, including a tour commander, who has a fractured knee.
"Once the tour commander got to the hall to retrieve two residents -- two residents and the rest of the group in the hall -- approximately eight residents overpowered the tour commander," says Derek Robinson, with grievances and legal services in SSEU Local 471. "Once they got through the door, they immediately started attacking staff in the area."
News 12 is told those involved wrestled keys from a supervisor and tried to reach a rival gang that was in another area unsuccessfully. A source working inside says the environment is hostile and they do not feel support by the Administration for Children Services, which runs the center.
"The SCM model that the agency gives to handle these residents - the safe crisis management -- is inadequate, ineffective and it really doesn't handle how to prevent gang assaults or what to do physically," says Robinson.
Robinson, who is a former youth development specialist, says ACS' model for crises is not working because there is a long history of their members being out on workers' compensation - more than 200 between Crossroads and Horizon juvenile centers in the Bronx. He says it's because of incidents like the one that unfolded last week.
Union heads plan to visit the facility Friday to support their members. They plan to set to setup a meeting with ACS to take further action protecting the staff.
ACS told News 12 in a statement, "Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of youth and staff in our secure detention facilities. Whenever there is an incident, we take immediate action to deescalate the situation to protect the safety of both youth and staff." They also say any youth who engages in such behavior are arrested and can face potential prosecution.