Arrested former DJJ contract staffer worked at state-hired security firm before gun charge

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Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 7:41 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A Richland County man hired to help secure a juvenile justice facility now faces a criminal charge for bringing a gun to it.

S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice spokesperson Joe Cashion confirmed to WIS, Joseph Emanuel Bratton worked at Allied Universal Security Systems prior to his June 21 arrest for bringing a loaded gun to the DJJ Midlands Evaluation Center.

The department brought in Allied Universal Security in the aftermath of the June 2021 staff walk-out, where safety at the facility was raised a crucial concern.

State Fiscal Accountability Authority records show Allied remains contracted with the DJJ for:

Contractor Security Guard services to assist with various duties at various locations statewide.

Comptroller General records show taxpayers have spent more than $1.4 million on the company for DJJ services this fiscal year.

Bratton’s position at the company isn’t clear, but the DJJ released a statement saying he was in the control room the day he had the gun and did not have access to DJJ youth.

Allied Universal Vice President Sherita Coffelt declined to comment and attempts to contact Bratton were unsuccessful.

Cashion informed WIS Bratton has been fired. Richland County court records show the DJJ Inspector General John Ewing arrested Bratton on June 21.

Bratton faces a possession of contraband charge and bonded out on a $10,000 surety bond.

Cashion did forward WIS a memo which outlined a series of security changes which would be implemented at the department.

The memo, written by Deputy Director Mack McGhee lists the following:

  • Enhanced Front Gate Screening & Searches
  • Metal Detectors will be utilized at all Facilities
  • Wands will be utilized at all facilities
  • Staff and visitors will be asked to empty their pockets into a basket at gate
  • All Bags will be observed and searched at all facilities
  • BRRC only-All Vehicles driving behind the fence will be subject to a search and random vehicles will be directed to pull to the side for a full search with driver being asked to step out of the vehicle

Bratton’s arrest comes after a teen was able to bring a gun into a DJJ facility weeks prior.

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