When the state opened the facility in 2000, Pearl City residents lined the streets in protest, and the state has been maneuvering through a rough road ever since.
“Those elopements did happen, and there were security issues with the compound,” said Pearl City Neighborhood Board Member Larry Varay talking about youth escaping from the facility which is run by a private company called Benchmark.
After a couple of teenagers escaped in August 2011, there have been a number of changes physically and on paper.
“We're very concerned about safety,” said Varay.
The DOH is finishing upgrades to the gate that leads to the facility.
A 24-hour guard schedule will be cut back, but the area will be reinforced by an automated gate, a card scan system, and security cameras.
The health department says the main reason is not to keep troubled youth in, but to keep vandals out.
“So we've combined the card access, the guard, and the cameras to use technology to enhance our security,” said Lynn Fallin, who is with the health department’s behavioral health division.
But those recent escapes, or elopements, have prompted changes at the treatment center too.
Since it opened in 2000, youth have eloped seven times and runaway three times during outings.