After assault, Union meets with Director on Indian River issues

Posted Oct. 26, 2022 by

After a harrowing last week at Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility, union leaders met with director and management to begin to talk about some solutions to deal with the increase in violence at the facility and around the Department of Youth Services agency.

Last week, Correction Officer David Upshaw was assaulted from behind and beat with his radio by a youth who got out of his housing unit. He was hospitalized with serious injuries, although is improving. Officer Sadie McIlvain was also assaulted that week as was Officer Dylan Crum, and Officer Malakai Wagler a week earlier.

Then Saturday, twelve Indian River youth escaped from their units and holed up at the facility’s school. Multiple law enforcement agencies were called in and were on the scene for many hours. Luckily, the weeken incident ended without serious injury and only property damage.

“Our prayers go out to David and Patricia Upshaw and all the officers who were injured last week,” said OCSEA President Chris Mabe.

Our officers need increased protection in DYS and they need the tools to be able to deal with youth who continue to offend and assault officers,” he said.

For years, Juvenile Correction Officers have said there aren’t enough consequences for those youth who are violent against staff and other youth, or who continually refuse to follow rules. And chronic understaffing has made the problem just that much worse.

Wilson Humphrey, the DYS Assembly President of the union said the agency needs to start by changing their policies around violent youth, and to stop blaming staff.

“The administration caters to these youth, and then they blame staff when staff are assaulted,” said Humphrey. The bottom line is the agency isn’t giving employees enough tools when youth are aggressive, which prevents them from protecting staff as well as youth who do follow the rules.

The union will be pushing for weekly labor/management meetings over the next weeks and months to try to hammer out these issues.