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BRIDGE CITY, La. (WGNO) — The pressure is on Friday night to shut down the Bridge City Center for Youth. And now, Governor John Bel Edwards is sending in reinforcements.

“They are physically threatening bodily injury to the staff, they’re putting their hands on the staff,” a former BCCY staff member told WGNO’s Amy Russo, recalling the months she spent working at the facility.

“If they get phone calls, they take advantage of the phone to contact their family members. They’re trying to get in touch with this one that one to put hits out,” they added.

In the last few months, more than a dozen juvenile inmates have escaped the center, including five early Thursday morning.

Then around 10:00 Thursday night, a riot involving 20 inmates resulted in a SWAT roll, sending two people to the hospital. One juvenile attempted to escape but was quickly apprehended.

“The building needs to be updated, the staff needs to be trained, they need post-certification,” the former staff member added. “Minimalize the real high-profile class offenders. Separate them from the minor offenders.”

Most of all, the former employee says the doors need to be shut.

“I highly recommend they close the facility, and they ship them somewhere else where the community can be safe.”

Louisiana State Senator Patrick Connick (R-Marrero) agrees.

“The Bridge City facility is not designed and cannot house violent youth offenders or any violent offenders.”

With staff members reportedly at their breaking point.

“They can’t take it anymore, they’ve seen too much of this,” said the employee. “It’s too consistent and they want to quit.”

The bottom line? The senator says the center isn’t safe.

“It’s not safe for the guards, it’s not safe for the residents, and it has to be closed in that respect,” Connick explained.

The Governor has agreed to send additional staff and law enforcement to the facility in Bridge City to make sure the escapes and other disturbances, like Thursday night’s riot, stop.

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