Martin County Sheriff’s Office wants to bill youth facility after ‘riot’

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 4:40 PM EST
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WFLX is learning new details about what happened late Friday night at a youth residential treatment center near Tequesta that the Martin County Sheriff’s Office described as a “riot.”

For five years, Danny Curtis has lived down the road from the SandyPines Residential Treatment Center.

"I've never seen them stray down here," Curtis said. "Never been a problem down here because of them."

But the Martin County Sheriff's Office does not consider the facility the best neighbor.

"There's a riot in two units, and we do not have enough staff," a 911 caller said Friday night.

An argument between two juveniles Friday night led to one of them grabbing a door card off the neck of an employee who tried to intervene.

It escalated with chairs being thrown and windows broken, according to the sheriff's office.

"It took 27 of our deputies, detectives, K-9 units, our aviation unit offline on a busy Friday night," Martin County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.

Eight residents escaped the facility but were all caught within the wood line around the property, which is surrounded by Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Eleven others were arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center.

Three people, including at least one staff member, had minor injuries.

"That facility is a for-profit organization, and they should have the ability to self-contain all of their problems within the facility," Budensiek said.

SandyPines has been in existence since 1990.

Since Sept. 15, 2021, there have been 249 calls to law enforcement. Some of those calls were for assault while others were for missing person reports.

Management at SandyPines said they did not have any comment about what happened over the weekend.

Sitting only a quarter mile from the Martin-Palm Beach county line, the facility has very few access roads. Jupiter and Tequesta police were called to the facility to assist Friday night.

"We're going to tally up all the man hours and the money that we put out of taxpayer dollars into quelling riot and rounding up the subsequent escapees, and we're going to send them a bill," Budensiek said.

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