Worker on watch of facility while teen escaped lost job

The person assigned to supervise the 17-year-old murder suspect who escaped from an exercise yard at the county’s juvenile hall is no longer employed there.

Chief Probation Officer Loren Buddress would not comment on the employee’s departure, describing it as a “personnel issue.” He said no other employees have been disciplined in the case.

The supervisor was cited as a primary cause of the Feb. 14 escape in a report the Probation Office sent to county supervisors and court officials late Friday.

Josue Raul Orozco is believed to have escaped from the county’s Youth Services Center, located in the hills above San Mateo, with the help of Martin Villa Patino and Vanher Cho, both 18, who have since been charged with aiding the escape. The two teens allegedly boosted Orozco over a 15-foot wall; Orozco then fled through a hole in the outer fencethought to be cut by someone outside the facility.

Buddress said the supervisor assigned to watch over the inmates in the exercise yard left the teens alone and went to a staff office. He would not comment on the employee’s reasons for leaving the teenagers alone.

The report lists several changes the Probation Office will make to deter escapes in the future, including replacing clear glass windows that look between the unit and the parking lot with opaque glass.

Buddress said they don’t know for sure whether any communication occurred through those windows, but regardless, the windows will be replaced to prevent any future problems.

The report also suggested several changes in fencing around the facility, including replacing the outer fence with one that would detect motion and be impervious to cutting. County supervisors said the report left them with questions and concerns, which they hope will be addressed in the independent investigation they are funding.

“My question is why aren’t we following protocols and procedures that are in place. If you have people on duty that are supposed to be in a particular place, why weren’t they there?” Supervisor Adrienne Tissier said. “I see it as a matter of human error, but a human error with a very disturbing result.”

kworth@examiner.com

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