HASTINGS, Fla. – After a series of escapes by teens from the Hastings Youth Academy juvenile facility, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that its deputies would be helping with perimeter security at the facility.
Sheriff David Shoar and Florida Juvenile Justice Department Secretary Christina Daly settled on the strategy Wednesday to enhance security while the DJJ reviews and inspects the state contracted company that runs the facility.
Shoar ordered the deputies to start preparing by day's end to staff the perimeter of the academy.
Shoar also offered to consult with the DJJ on any policy or procedure improvements for the facility.
Daly said that her conversations with the company that runs the academy would include finding ways to offset the cost to taxpayers for the security team.
“While we agree the effort involving deputies at the facility is currently necessary, albeit temporary, this effort must be initiated immediately,” Shoar said. “Following the third escape in as many months involving violence, stolen cars, as well as vehicle and foot pursuits; our deputies will remain on property until both of our agencies are satisfied that the necessary changes have been made. Our citizens in the surrounding areas deserve, to once again feel safe in their homes and neighborhood.”
The most recent escape involved an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old who disappeared from the recreation yard and were captured in less than 24 hours.