By Bonnie Culverhouse
It was a long weekend for local law enforcement and the Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program.
Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker said he was contacted around 12:15 a.m. Sunday by YCP administration at Camp Minden about a disturbance.
“They were having an incident out there of a bunch of unruly YCP kids,” Parker said. “They needed some assistance to get control of the situation.”
The sheriff’s department contacted Louisiana State Police and Minden Police for assistance and a K9 officer was dispatched, as well.
“They had several cadets out there that did not want to follow orders,” said the sheriff. “There were certain ones that were instigating what was going on out there. They were being disruptive, but once we started arresting them and putting them in vehicles, things started calming down.”
Parker said his deputies were “being spit at and spit on” by the cadets.
“A lot of unruly behavior,” he said. “Most of the kids were not from here. They were from Alexandria south to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette.”
Parker said law enforcement arrested 8 females and 1 male.
“The male subject resisted officers,” he said. “All of them were taken to the sheriff’s office and issued citations for various charges. Parents and guardians were contacted and told to come pick them up. It took about 10 hours. It was a long process.”
YCP is a voluntary program, so if a cadet “escapes,” it is not really considered an escape.
“There were 4 or 5 walk-offs, too,” the sheriff said Monday. “I think all but one have been located and returned to YCP.”
The program at Camp Minden has seen much success and was in the beginning weeks of the current session. The sheriff said he is “very high” on the program.
“The majority of the kids there are willing to learn and straighten out their lives and do what they are supposed to,” he continued. “A high percentage go on to live productive lives. We want to support them, and we won’t let a few bad apples ruin it for all of them.”
During the 5 month Residential Phase of the volunteer program, students attend daily classes with certified instructors and work at their own pace to improve their math and reading skills in order to increase their individual grade level. Those students who meet state eligibility requirements are provided the opportunity to test for their high school equivalency diploma.
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