Cops: Ex-Cobb corrections officer let kids fight in juvenile facility

Credit: Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council records

Credit: Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council records

A man sworn to protect children at a juvenile detention facility in Cobb County allegedly allowed a brawl that ended with a child losing a tooth.

Trevor Adrian Coker faces three counts of felony child abuse and another felony charge of violating his oath as an officer, according to a police warrant.

The warrant does not accuse him of hitting the children, but that he did “allow” the fight that led to “one youth obtaining injuries to his face and head area, including a tooth knocked out.”

The agency said Coker resigned after learning he was under investigation by the department.

“Regardless of staff rank, position or seniority, DJJ will not tolerate criminal acts by our staff, on or off duty, or by youth in custody,” DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles said in a statement Monday. “Those who break the law will face serious consequences.”

The DJJ will sometimes divert juvenile offenders to short-term incarceration juvenile detention centers like the Marietta facility or community programs in place of long-term custody.

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A DJJ investigator wrote the warrant May 29. But Coker had not been arrested as of Monday afternoon, said Cobb sheriff’s office spokesman Glenn Daniel.

When asked why Coker had not been arrested nearly a week after a warrant had been approved by a judge, Daniel said: "We do not discuss any procedures on warrant executions of a wanted person."

The warrant alleges that Coker let the three kids into a room to fight sometime between May 6 and May 8 at the Marietta Regional Detention Center.

The Powder Springs Road facility serves Cobb, Cherokee, Douglas and Paulding counties, according to the DJJ.

Coker started working with the DJJ on Nov. 1 and voluntarily resigned on May 11, the records show. That’s 191 days.

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The warrant does not say how Coker’s alleged involvement came to light.

But such scenes of officers letting juveniles fight aren't uncommon elsewhere, according to a recent project by the Miami Herald that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

The six-part series — dubbed "Fight Club" — was an exhaustive look at a secretive juvenile prison system that uncovered, in addition to sexual misconduct and medical neglect, the fact that jailers would set up fights between inmates.

Following the investigation, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a spending bill in March that raised salaries for juvenile detention and probation officers for the first time in a decade.

State data from May shows that 489 children are in DJJ regional youth detention centers, according to Channel 2 Action News.

As of Jan. 22, there were 827 children housed in secure detention centers across Georgia, reports Channel 2. Of those, 80.2 percent are male and 19.8 percent are female.

The Cobb magistrate court website indicated that Coker will face a $10,000 bond once he is arrested.

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