State, Manchester police called to former YDC for disturbance; second time in 3 weeks

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State Police cruisers outside the Sununu Youth Center late Saturday, one day after an incident brought state and local police to the youth center on River Road. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

UPDATE Sept. 10, 6:15 p.m.: State police returned to the Sununu Center late Saturday for an unknown call. We’ll update this story as information becomes available.

MANCHESTER, NH – For the second time in about three weeks, State and Manchester police were sent to the John H. Sununu Youth Services for uncontrolled residents.

Within a 24-hour time span, state and Manchester police were dispatched three times to the juvenile detention from early Friday evening and about 9:10 a.m. Saturday.

According Manchester Police Department’s call log, police were sent to the juvenile detention facility at 5:31 p.m. Friday to assist another agency, presumably state police.

According to Manchester Information administrator Jeff Hastings, NH State Police we’re sent there for students being out of their rooms, and possible injuries.

In a 16-hour time span, law enforcement were sent to the facility three times, with Manchester being sent for a third time at 9:13 a.m. for an “unruly juvenile.” AMR ambulances also were sent on Friday and Saturday.

Hastings reported that on Saturday students were reportedly throwing furniture and out of control, and that an ambulance was needed for a staff member who had a head injury.

Jake Leon, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, in an email did not mention if anyone was injured or confirm that residents were throwing furniture.

“There were three incidents in which law enforcement was called to support the staff at the Sununu Center last night and this morning,” he said in an email.

 “The escalations that have occurred are common in a locked and secure setting with a resident population comprised of individuals with a history of severe and violent offenses. The safety and security of the staff and residents is our top priority and everyone at the Sununu Center is currently safe.”

He said the center is experiencing staffing challenges, something that is widespread nationwide in secured and non-secured residential settings.

 “While staffing during these escalations was consistent with federal standards, it was a challenge to address the escalations that occurred,” he said. “While it has been infrequent, it is standard operating procedure for staff to request the support of law enforcement to deescalate a situation when necessary to ensure safety. We thank the NH State Police and the Manchester Police Department for their assistance.

In August, police were dispatched to the facility for what dispatchers described as a riot.  DHHS, however, referred to it as a “disturbance.”

At the time, there were 13 youths housed there with 15 staff members.

At that time, Leon said the incident involved youths not complying with their evening responsibilities.  He said state police didn’t characterize it as a riot.

“Due to the needs of each youth, they were housed in several units to ensure the safety of residents and staff. With the staff spread out among each unit, it was initially challenging to control the incident,” Leon said.

He said in that incident, staff worked quickly to ensure all youths were returned to their rooms and order was restored.


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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.