Child abuse alleged at boot camp in SLO County

June 3, 2015

Boot_Camp_(2001)_logoThe San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations that Southern California law enforcement officers physically abused several minors last month at a boot camp held at Camp San Luis Obispo.

From May 17 to 24, the Huntington Park and South Gate police departments ran the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) camp. Participants at the camp ranged in age from 11 to 17, and they each came from Southern California.

On May 28, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services received a report of physical abuse inflicted on a child who attended LEAD. The victim reported being abused by drill instructors at the boot camp.

Two days after the initial report, the SLO sheriff’s office sent three investigators to Southern California. The detectives conducted interviews with 39 recruits who attended the boot camp.

Los Angeles sheriff’s investigators have since helped conduct more interviews.

Investigators have now identified approximately six additional victims, according to a sheriff’s news release issued Tuesday night. The sheriff’s office is not yet releasing further information.



  1. Gordo says:

    Law enforcement conducts child abuse investigations to determine if a child is in danger and if the abuse rose to the level of criminal misconduct; as opposed to poor parenting/coping skills.

    CWS is a social welfare agency whose concern is the safety of the child, not whether a crime has occurred. They are not trained criminal investigators, nor do they have the same authority given to a peace officer to take a child into custody.

    A CWS worker could show up at a home to ask questions about a child and the door can be slammed in their face with little consequences. Slamming the door on a police officer asking questions about an abused child will illicit a very different response than that received from a social worker. The courts will give a tremendous amount of leeway to a police officer’s action when a potential child abuse case is involved.
    This is why CWS will often ask an officer accompany them during an investigation.

    Through mandated cross reporting, each profession works together in their respective role and if things work correctly, they complement one another in accomplishing the goal of protecting children.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. MaryMalone says:

    Here are a series of articles/videos from an LA County-based news service:

    Children Allegedly Beaten at Boot Camp Sponsored by Huntington Park, South Gate Police Departments

    (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  3. MaryMalone says:

    Here’s an LATimes article about this issue.

    Authorities investigate youths’ claims of abuse by L.A.-area police at camp

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  4. MaryMalone says:

    There were 39 juveniles in the camp, and 7 of them (8 percent) have complained of abuse.

    I would say that 18 percent reporting abuse is a HUGE red flag for an endemic problem in the program.

    It would be interesting to see how many prior “LEAD” camps have had complaints of physical abuse?

    (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  5. CentralcoastRN says:

    For children ages 11-17, abuse has different definitions than for a 3 year old.

    Depending on the intent and function of the camp, it could be perfectly reasonable to get in to a 17 year old’s personal space and let them know, “hey, you MAY be special to your mother, but you are NOT that special to anyone else. You are just a person; and if you act any better than anybody else or have attitude, it can get you hurt.”

    Anyone can ALLEGE child abuse against anyone else. I am just not sure why it is the Sheriff’s Dept and not Child Welfare Service investigating.

    (-2) 16 Total Votes - 7 up - 9 down
    • Cindy says:

      “I am just not sure why it is the Sheriff’s Dept and not Child Welfare Service investigating.”

      These kids were in a boot camp that is run by LE. This would indicate that these kids are criminals who have been ordered to a jail/prison type program by a judge. There are lots of youth who are locked up for serious crime and I have to laugh at the idea of CPS investigating abuse complaints by these kids. I mean think about it, kids locked in cages, oh my! Kids made to wear handcuffs and what not when they leave or enter certain areas, oh my! Get my drift ? I don’t think CPS would know if they were coming or going, LOL.

      (2) 12 Total Votes - 7 up - 5 down
      • CentralcoastRN says:

        Child Welfare Services investigates allegations of abuse. They protect children. Like it or not, believe these kids or not, Child welfare services SHOULD be there. It could be that the department of child and family services did some digging and then let the Sheriffs take over.

        If we do not take EVERY allegation seriously, then there might be a child that sits needlessly like Jaycee Dugard, or how about that story in the new recently on calcoast news that recently got a verdict:

        Get my drift? I would rather have CWS investigate 100 cases than have one kid suffer. And before you puff up your chest at me, YOU try going in to a house where a child has been abused/neglected. You will never be the same.

        Following a standard procedure in cases where child abuse has been alleged protects ALL parties. It can help keep things neutral, as a procedure is followed. It leaves a clear, consistent documentation trail so NO questions can or should remain. See, the problems occur in cases when consistency does not happen.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        QUOTING CINDY: “These kids were in a boot camp that is run by LE. This would indicate that these kids are criminals who have been ordered to a jail/prison type program by a judge.”


        Why would you assume the kids are criminals?

        According to the LA Times, “some of the children were recommended for the intervention program by their schools after talking back to their teachers and parents.” Nowhere have I read that the kids who are alleging being abused, beat and tortured had been convicted of crimes.

        LATimes: Authorities investigate youths’ claims of abuse by L.A.-area police at camp

        (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
    • indigo1955 says:

      Stop blaming the victims. It is this sick, new trend and it needs to stop. If Child Welfare Service is investigating–then they must have a valid reason. It is a shifting paradigm–no one needs to be yelled at in the face like some stupid animal.

      You are going on with some imaginary dialog complete with quotation marks. You are an RN-leave the psychological risk for trauma to the experts. That may not even be what transpired.

      And no—as a psychologist I can tell you that the meaning of abuse can be the same definition for someone who is 3 or 11-17. Age and perception of abuse is a small factor—but abuse is abuse. It can traumatize forever.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
      • CentralcoastRN says:

        I went back to re-read what I typed indigo. My intent did not come across well, not at all. I agree with you that abuse CAN be the same for someone who is 3 of 11-17. I think it all depends on the situation, and I was and AM for siding with children and investigating when there is doubt. I was trying to imagine a situation where police might try and be harsh with you and it not be abuse. I think a 17 year old understands why they might be getting yelled far better than a 3 year old does, and that was my point.

        I think these allegations SHOULD be investigated, which is why I am wondering why CWS wasn’t out questioning along with the Sheriffs. The story seemed lacking information.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        THANK YOU, Indigo.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        There is a difference between blaming the victim and not accepting the truth of an allegation without investigation. The accused has a right to be heard and considered too because there are people in this world who will lie to get revenge upon those who anger them. I can’t believe that you haven’t encountered such yet.

        Also, by the time one is a teenager, having someone get in your face and yell at you, while unpleasant, should not be permanently traumatizing unless you have a significant psychological problem already. If it is done frequently and with no end in sight, that might be a different matter. Life has its trials and being verbally harassed (especially with reason) is one that most people should be able to handle.

        (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      QUOTING CentralcoastRN: “I am just not sure why it is the Sheriff’s Dept and not Child Welfare Service investigating.”

      It is in the purview of the police because they of the commission of a possible crime.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      QUOTING Centralcoastrn: “Anyone can ALLEGE child abuse against anyone else.”


      WTF? Is that like “Anyone can ALLEGE rape”?

      Just because anyone can claim a crime has been committed doesn’t mean all claims of committed crimes should be discounted.

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
      • CentralcoastRN says:

        “Alleged” is simply a word used when a charge has not been collaborated. I have reiterated several times that I believe the child abuse ALLEGATIONS should be investigated.

        And to split hairs, yes, anyone who believes they are raped in the United States can ALLEGE they have been raped. We do not immediately assume the accused is guilty. The Allegation is investigated.

        I never said the allegation should be discounted. I wondered why Sheriffs were investigating. Obviously the original article was lacking.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      I agree that allegations are easy to make but that doesn’t mean they are right or wrong. New Times has some of the allegations in its story about this and, IF ACCURATE, they would constitute child abuse in my eyes. My big concern here is that the investigation is both fair and thorough. The parties on either side are perfectly capable of lying so determining the truth will be highly important.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  6. LameCommenter says:

    Yep, got whacked on the butt in my time, with that wooden sports paddle with the holes drilled in it. Everybody my age in every high school I knew of faced the same. Didn’t hurt much, but was an excellent embarrassment in front of the P.E. class. I guess such is out of the question now, I don’t whack anybody, but it worked well then and we survived it without (apparent) damage to our little psyches.

    (2) 22 Total Votes - 12 up - 10 down
    • Cindy says:

      I’m in my 50’s and no one was allowed to hit us when we were in school, in fact no one but our parents were legally allowed to hit us when I was growing up. All of us kids were well behaved and listened to the teachers because if we didn’t our parents would have thrashed us. By today’s standards, I think my parents might have been charged with child abuse a few times as they might have left a mark on my butt occasionally.

      Personally, I don’t believe in spanking unless a child is extremely unruly and disrespectful. From what I see, plenty of parents have lost control and respect from their children thanks to the new laws.

      (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
  7. Hongo says:

    Frankly, the parents ought to be charged with child abuse too for leaving their children unattended with a bunch of police officers. What did they expect would happen?

    (-15) 51 Total Votes - 18 up - 33 down
    • SLO_Johnny says:

      I’m sure that the parents and the courts expected that the officers would behave in an appropriate, professional, adult manner.

      (9) 33 Total Votes - 21 up - 12 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        These LEOs are working in police departments where heavy-handed treatment of kids is not unusual.

        They are working in those departments because they could not get a better placement. So do they have a bad outlook to start with…mostly, yeah.

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
    • Rich in MB says:

      Are you implying police officers can’t be trusted with kids? This isn’t Baltimore my friend…its SLO.

      (6) 20 Total Votes - 13 up - 7 down
      • SLO_Johnny says:

        The officers involved ain’t from SLO my friend.

        (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • indigo1955 says:

      Being in the field of psychology—I can tell you that police officers go for CONTROL. But then, so do rapists. However, police officers are sworn to serve and protect.

      Ask anyone who is in the field of psychology who they ask to take their weapon to the car and come back without it during the therapy session: that would be–the police officers.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  8. Mitch C says:

    You don’t go to a camp like this without reason. The little cup cake that complained needs to wake up and smell the coffee … he is not the victim, we, the taxpayers, are the victims. It appears that this individual is on the long road to the Big House. Instead of taking whatever value there was available to turn his life around he played the victim card and missed the best opportunity he will ever get.

    (18) 38 Total Votes - 28 up - 10 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      Maybe, maybe not. There are bad cops as well as bad kids. Stay tuned to find out which is at fault in this case.

      (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
      • Cindy says:

        I have to agree with both you and Mitch C. I’m going to wait and see exactly what comprised the alleged abuse. While these kids have an opportunity to correct their behaviors and maybe avoid the “big house” down the road, the exact opposite can be accomplished if they are taught that LE are no better than they are.

        It’s so important for LE to garner respect and conduct themselves to the highest standards of the law if they’re going to set an example and help these kids learn to change their behavior. It’s all about setting an example, with an honest but firm approach.

        (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      QUOTING MITCH C: “You don’t go to a camp like this without reason.”


      If you are inferring that those who attended the camp are guilty because of their activities BEFORE they even attended the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) camp, then you are wrong. That would be lumping in all of the camp’s attendees for punishment that, if anything, should be only administered to the person who broke a camp rule.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  9. Old Salt says:

    Back in my day High School Gym Class was our “Boot Camp.”
    If you didn’t play by the Coaches “rules” (disobeyed their instructions) like going body surfing at the Morro Strand State Beach, instead of running on the beach to the North Point and back, and if you got caught, which we did, you’d got 3 hard spanks with a wooden paddle on your wet butt and it wasn’t called “child abuse”. It was called “discipline.
    Thank G_D for coaches like Sam Boyd, Biden, and Novak…etc..!

    (10) 36 Total Votes - 23 up - 13 down
    • zaphod says:

      never strike a child if you simply must strike a child you use a piece of string

      (-22) 32 Total Votes - 5 up - 27 down
      • Stunned says:

        Go roll another one zaphod!

        (22) 32 Total Votes - 27 up - 5 down
      • No_More_Anger says:

        How many of your undisciplined kids went to the Grizzlies Camp?

        (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
      • indigo1955 says:

        You are dealing with blood-thirsty idiots here….don’t even try for compassion….you will not get it.

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down

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