New Juvenile Detention Center builds on an already secure operation

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 12:53 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - With the new Youth Justice and Rehabilitation Center breaking ground on Monday, Scott County officials are looking at new resources to build on an already secure operation.

After an attempted escape earlier in October at the current Juvenile Detention Center, two teens are facing more felony charges in adult court.

Lazerric Harper and Fernando Cooks are accused of third-degree kidnapping and assault, in connection to their attempt to escape from the facility on Oct. 6.

Director Jeremy Kaiser said attempted escapes are rare, only seeing two in his 13 years in charge.

“This will be a more secure facility than our current facility,” Kaiser said. “Our current facility is very secure. We’ve actually not had a successful escape as long as I’ve been there.”

The current facility uses digital software to control access, and badges that only open interior doors, making it hard for a detainee to get out

“We don’t rely upon keys as much,” Kaiser said. “Even if a resident was able to get a hold of a badge, they still will not be able to escape.”

The detention counselors dealing with juveniles on a daily basis are trained in de-escalation tactics and take refresher courses annually, usually stopping an incident before it happens.

“Our staff do a good job of building rapport and developing relationships,” Kaiser said. “It’s not exactly like something they need to run away from.”

The new YJRC adds spaces like a quiet room and a dedicated breakroom. Kaiser said a new building will not only help the kids but the staff too.

“Having a more normative environment is good for staff as well. “Kaiser said. “We’ll also have improved staff support spaces with this facility ... [It will be] just a better place to work overall.”

Both Haper and Cooks were already facing gun charges in adult court, something Kaiser said could be contributing factors in their attempt.

“We did have some individuals that were looking at some very serious crimes and were trying to take advantage of a current situation,” Kaiser said.

Harper and Cooks are set to be arraigned on Oct. 27 in relation to their attempted escape.