By Bonnie Culverhouse
Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker got his wish last week with a meeting specifically designed to address problems with the Youth Challenge Program at Camp Minden.
“Bossier Parish Sheriff (Julian) Whittington and I met with the National Guard yesterday to go over the recent incidents with YCP at Camp Minden and to discuss ways to prevent future incidents,” Parker said Thursday.
Parker was referring to four separate episodes of two riots – one with two YCP cadets attempting to disarm a security person – an attack on a Cadre with batteries in a sock and a van stolen by two walk-aways.
His deputies, along with other law enforcement officers, responded to all those events. Many of them were spit on by cadets.
“We need to move forward and try to shed a more positive light on the good things that are going on out there,” Parker said. “YCP has made several changes that will help prevent future incidents of this type.”
They will begin with YCP and Camp Minden Military Police increasing their staff and providing “surge” staffing when necessary. YCP has also enhanced their screening process, he said.
“Our office will maintain our current elevated patrols and presence and in addition will integrate deputy visits and interactions during YCP programming,” Parker said, adding he would like to see some deputies have meals with the cadets to instill trust.
“YCP is an excellent program and has given many at risk youth a second chance,” said the sheriff. “The youth that are in there now go out into the community and help with events and the elderly. It’s really a great program.”
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