Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Announces Independent Security Review for Larned State Hospital


TOPEKA – The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) today announced that the agency has been working with the Correctional Leaders Association to retain an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive security review at Larned State Hospital (LSH). Governor Kelly directed KDADS to begin the search for an external security firm to review LSH following the elopement of John Colt from the Sexual Predator Treatment Program. With today’s report that Isaac Nathaniel Watts walked away from the LSH crisis stabilization unit last night, Governor Kelly has directed the agency to accelerate the review.

“This administration is taking action to identify and fix the flaws that allowed two dangerous residents to escape from a state-operated facility, to ensure that it does not happen again,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “At my directive, The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is working expeditiously to retain an independent, external organization to work with staff at the agency and at Larned State Hospital to perform a comprehensive review and produce recommendations to improve security and keep Kansans safe.”

The Correctional Leaders Association (CLA) is made up of correctional leaders of all US state corrections agencies, Los Angeles County, the District of Columbia, New York City, Philadelphia, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and any United States territory, possession, and/or commonwealth. CLA is assisting KDADS to quickly identify an external firm with the needed experience in secure settings, civil commitment programs, and the needs of patients with mental health needs.

“Once we have retained an external firm, we will work closely with them to diagnose the full scope of protocols for elopement responses and a review of staff culture including their experience with the policies and practice,” KDADS Secretary Laura Howard said. “Across Kansas, our state-run facility staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and this security review will help support their mission.”

Once the proposal is finalized KDADS anticipates the review will begin onsite in February this year, with a written report with recommendations available by the end of March.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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