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Samantha Hayes reportingState investigators are looking into a youth treatment facility after a riot broke out over the weekend. The city where the center operates is also taking action.
At the South Salt Lake city council meeting tonight, the mayor says he was apprehensive from the beginning when the Cottonwood Youth Academy applied for its business license. He says current city zoning ordinances prevented the council from saying no. Now, he wants to change that.
When three police departments, including South Salt Lake, broke up a riot inside the Cottonwood Youth Academy, Mayor Wes Losser had heard enough.
Wes Losser, Mayor of South Salt Lake: “The second time we've had an incident and they haven't complied. And it was like the police reported they couldn't tell the difference between the kids and the staff out there because there was yelling back and forth, and it was totally out of control."
Losser says the police have been called to the facility a few times before.
Wes Losser, Mayor of South Salt Lake: “One of the kids escaped from the facility ran through people's yards being chased by staff."
Cottonwood Youth Academy refused to comment Tuesday when Eyewitness News reported the story. A follow-up call was not returned.
City council members are considering a change to zoning laws. As it stands now, the Cottonwood Youth Academy falls under the definition of a "school."
Wes Losser, Mayor of South Salt Lake: “As a city, we are concerned and from the very beginning I never thought this was a good idea to have them in our city."
On its website, the Cottonwood Youth Academy defines itself as a 70 bed educational residential treatment facility for adolescents who may struggle with fetal alcohol disorders, mental health disorders, and behavioral problems.
State investigators are examining staff qualifications and the backgrounds of the teenagers.
Wes Losser, Mayor of South Salt Lake: “Also, the staff wasn't cooperative with our police department, and again this last incident..they were not cooperative either."
The state began its investigation a few weeks ago, after a complaint by a former treatment center staff member.