ENTERPRISE, Fla. – The Volusia County Sheriff said he’s seen changes at a children’s home months after two kids escaped and got into a shootout with deputies.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said before the gunfire, his deputies responded to hundreds of calls each year from the Florida United Methodist Children’s home, or FUMCH, in Enterprise but those numbers are going down.
“It seems like things are improving and they’re back to doing what they’re good at,” Chitwood said.
He said FUMCH is stepping up and making critical changes, after two violent incidents earlier this year.
First in March, where he said a teen at the home beat up a security guard, who later died. Then, in June, when a 12-year-old and 14-year-old got into a shootout with deputies after escaping the home and breaking into a nearby house.
Since then, the home has made two changes: one is ending its emergency shelter program.
“I think FUMCH listened. The fact they’re no longer contracting with DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) to take these high-risk kids in,” he said.
Chitwood said the home wasn’t equipped to handle the high-risk children and the latest call numbers show why. The sheriff’s office gave News 6 data showing deputies’ response to the home.
“Since June we’ve only had three runaways, which was always a huge problem,” he said.
That’s compared to 14 calls for runaways from June to September last year.
Assault and battery calls are also down. The other change the home has made was increased security from off-duty deputies on special detail.
“For several weeks in September they requested we have a deputy on campus from like six to midnight,” Chitwood said.
Last year, between June and September, they were requested three times. This year they were requested 30.
“I’m sure $60 an hour, seven days a week, six hours a day, that can add up to being quite costly and if they’re back to what their true mission is then they really don’t need to have that police presence there,” Chitwood said.