State police to make routine check-ins at Sununu Center

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Sep. 13—New Hampshire State Police will perform routine, in-person check-ins at the Sununu Youth Services Center, state officials said on Monday, following a weekend of disturbances at the juvenile lock-up.

Manchester police and state police were called to the River Road location four times between Friday and Saturday.

Minor injuries took place, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the facility.

DHHS did not specify if those injured were staff or residents.

In a statement issued Monday, DHHS spokesman Jake Leon said the incidents are "common in justice settings" but low staffing levels prompted the police presence to ensure adequate care.

"We acted quickly over the weekend to complete facility upgrades to ensure the safety of all staff and residents," the Leon statement reads.

State police will check in with the Sununu Youth Service Center during each shift, he said. State police spokesman Amber Lagace said the check-ins will be in person.

"The temporary increased support of State Police will help ensure that the facility is able to respond to resident escalations quickly and keep residents and staff safe," Leon said.

Officials have not provided specifics about the unrest.

Leon said staffing is a challenge at the Sununu Center, but was consistent with federal standards.

"Pay enhancements" approved by state leaders last week will provide an important tool in assisting with recruitment to increase staffing levels in the longer term, he wrote.

State law currently calls for the Sununu Center to close in March. The Sununu Center and its predecessor, the Youth Development Center, are the subjects of lawsuits representing hundreds of former residents who claim sexual and physical abuse over decades of operation.