Marietta RYDC Conducts Joint Emergency Drill with Cobb County Public Safety
By Jim Shuler, DJJ Communications Director
(No DJJ Youth Participated or Were Used in this Scenario)
The Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) in Cobb County, Georgia conducted a joint emergency drill the first week of March with local police, sheriffs, EMT’s and fire officials. The goal was to practice a coordinated response for a simulated riot in the facility, resulting in multiple mock staff injuries and a potential practice hostage situation requiring a major medical triage response practice – All occurring at the facility at the same time.
Commissioner Avery D. Niles said as a matter of DJJ policy, major drills like the one at the Marietta RYDC are routinely required for every Department of Juvenile Justice secure facility to ensure safety and security of operations for agency staff and committed youth, and for the protection of the general public.
Marietta RYDC Training and Emergency Management Coordinator, LT Denita Molden, said the goal of their annual drill was to evaluate detention center staff responses to a wide variety of possible emergency situations. RYDC administrators will use feedback from other community first responders to help improve reaction times and procedures for the local Department of Juvenile Justice staff.
No DJJ youth participated in the scenario. They were safely isolated under secure supervision in another part of the facility during the simulation. Instead, several Marietta RYDC adult staff members dressed in state-issued youth detention center clothes to portray the role of rioting detainees for the drill.
The practice began with a mock youth-on-staff assault during a facility clean-up detail. The drill was staged to simulate a scenario where youth accessed a prohibited area of the facility in order to make it more difficult for corrections staff to accomplish an accurate head count and recovery effort.
A SWAT Team from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office was brought in during the exercise to restore order, assist staff members with simulated injuries, escort them to a mock triage area and to prevent further injuries. Canine teams from Cobb County Police were also part of the response effort to help search the facility and account for all youth offenders who participated in the simulated group disturbance. While on-site the canine teams also helped RYDC corrections staff conduct a complete real-world search of the entire facility and reported no drug contraband found.
Marietta RYDC Director Antonius Robinson said another primary benefit for this routine exercise was to build closer professional relations and strengthen communications between local county emergency response agencies and the Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center.
Commissioner Avery Niles said the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is grateful for the support of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), Cobb County Police Department (CCPD) and the Cobb County Fire Department (CCFD) and EMS personnel for the advanced planning required to develop this ‘best practices’ approach to saving lives and maintaining public safety in Cobb County.