The governing board of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs voted yesterday to seek legislative authority to hire certified law enforcement officers to beef up security at state juvenile correctional centers, reports The Oklahoman. The board decided not to allow them to carry firearms inside perimeter fences. The board will develop a plan that would specify conditions under which Tasers and pepper spray could be deployed inside the state’s secure juvenile centers.
Those were among several steps taken in response to a series of violent incidents and an escape from the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center. The disturbances occurred as the agency closed the state’s only maximum-security juvenile correctional center, and transferred its residents to two other units. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association said employees should not carry firearms, “risking a gun falling into the hands of a juvenile.” Board members agreed.