LARNED – The Ford County Sheriff's Office, Dodge City Police Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Highway Patrol, Ford County K-9 Unit, Stafford County Undersheriff and the Ford County Sheriff/Dodge City Police Department SORT Unit, assisted the Pawnee County Sheriff's Department with a riot incident that took place in the Central Unit of the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility on Nov. 6.

According to Pawnee County Attorney Douglas W. McNett, at approximately 9 p.m., units responded to the hospital when it was reported a riot had began in the Central Unit.

"Larned State Hospital Safety and Security were placed on standby. Additionally, numerous EMS/Fire Department personnel were placed on standby at the University of Kansas Health System - Pawnee Valley Campus," said McNett. "A fix wing aircraft was all on standby at the Larned airport. Barton and Edwards County law enforcement offered to respond, but were advised to stand down.

"The PCSO, along with the other outside law enforcement agencies, were initially tasked with securing the outside fences of the facility.

"The Pawnee County and Ford County K-9 officers and Ford County SRT were deployed within the facility to assist the KDOC SORT team regain control and secure the housing units.

"At approximately 11:30 p.m., LCMHF Warden Don Langford, Pawnee County Attorney Doug McNett and LCMHF administrative staff did an onsite walkthrough of the LCMHF Central Unit housing units. There was extensive property damage to all five housing units. At that time there were no staff injuries reported and all inmates were accounted for.

"Warden Langford and the entire LCMHF staff should be commended on how they swiftly and directly addressed the situation. Their prompt response to the inmates’ inappropriate behavior prevented further escalation and averted possible injuries to staff and inmates."

PCSO staff left LCMHF at approximately 1 a.m. KDOC Enforcement Apprehensions and Investigations will be handling the investigation following a debriefing.

The Pawnee County Attorney's Office will review for possible charges on the case once the investigation into the incident is complete.

According to Mcnett, the last time a riot took place in the LCMHF was in one housing unit on Dec. 30, 2001.

After the incident, inmates Kerry D. Arnold and Larece T. Hutton were charged due to their actions.

"Incitement to Riot is defined by Kansas Law as 'By words or conduct knowingly urging others to engage to riot under circumstances which produce a clear and present danger of injury to persons or property or breach of the public peace,'" said McNett.

McNett added that riot is defined by Kansas Law as five or more persons acting together and without lawful authority engaging in any use of force or violence which produces a breach of the public peace; threat to use force or violence against any person or property if accompanied by power or apparent power of immediate execution.

Incitement to riot is classified as a Severity Level 8 person felony which has a sentence between seven and 23 months depending on the criminal history of the defendant.

"Regarding the actual type of inmates now housed at LCMHF," said McNett, "DOC has not yet dropped 'mental health' from the facilities name despite changing its mission.

"Currently the Central Unit has five housing units with a capacity of 66 medium security inmates per housing unit. Inmates on the Central Unit are now housed two-men to a cell. Previously when mental health was their mission, cells were limited to one inmate.

"The Central Unit is just one building and the separate housing units therein in essence fan out similar to spokes on a wheel around a central security control rotunda.

"The West Unit, on the other hand, houses minimum security inmates. "The riot was isolated solely to the Central Unit."

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com