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SLO sheriff investigates allegations of abuse at LEAD boot camp 

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of abuse at a boot camp run by two Southern California police departments and operating out of Camp San Luis Obispo.

The investigation centers on instructors at the Leadership Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) boot camp, a program run by the Huntington Park and South Gate police departments for children ages 11 through 17.

Investigators identified at least seven victims who may have suffered physical and verbal abuse at the hands of the program’s instructors—who are members of the two police departments—during a one-week LEAD camp held May 7 through 24. All of the camp’s participants are from Southern California, and none of the alleged victims are local, according to a SLO Sheriff’s Office press release.

Attorney Greg Owen, whose firm is representing some of the alleged victims, detailed the alleged abuse at the camp, which included officers slamming kids against walls, stepping on their hands while they did pushups, and placing some of them inside a dark room where they were beaten.

Owen said some of them suffered bruises, scrapes, and at least one alleged victim had one or more broken fingers. He also said the instructor verbally berated them. The participants voluntarily attended the camp for minor behavioral issues, and their parents paid about $400 for the week, according to Owen.

Camp SLO isn’t affiliated with the LEAD program, but rents out facilities to the organization. Because the camp is in the Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction, it immediately started the investigation and has enlisted the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The investigation is ongoing, and the department hasn’t made any arrests yet.

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