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State to retake Hickey school security

Two years after the state said it was closing the “dysfunctional” Charles H. Hickey Jr. School, the troubled facility continues to give officials headaches.

The O’Malley administration said it will end the contract of the private firm that provided security at the juvenile detention center after three escapes this year.

Watkins Security Agency Inc. of Baltimore won the contract in October after the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. took the job away from state employees.

Now, security again will be in the hands of state employees, Juvenile Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore said.

“We’re moving to terminate the contract,” Mr. DeVore said. “We’re going to assume those responsibilities with our own staff.”

Describing the detention center as dysfunctional, the Ehrlich administration closed parts of Hickey in 2005 with great fanfare after state and federal monitors complained of long-standing problems, including physical abuse of juveniles by staff, deficient suicide-prevention measures and inadequate medical and mental health care. But the state continued to operate a section with beds for youths awaiting court appearances.

Meanwhile, security remained problematic. In May, 10 youths used wire cutters to break through a fence. Two others escaped July 31, although Juvenile Services officials do not know how. In January, two youths walked away from a gym.

A spokesman for the Department of General Services, which oversees state contracts, said his agency had informed Watkins that the contract will end Aug. 27.


DUI charges filed after officer hit

A Crofton man was charged with driving under the influence after Anne Arundel County police said he struck an officer.

Officer Alex Swartz, 36, had stopped another vehicle early Saturday on Riedel Road, police said. After placing that driver in his patrol car, police said, Officer Swartz was on the driver’s side of the cruiser when he was struck by David Gregory, 21.

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