Owen, Patterson & Owen currently represent seven of 36 children who attended the LEAD program the week of May 17-24, 2015. These children communicated that they were physically and verbally abused during their week long day at the boot camp.
LEAD is a program sponsored by the Huntington Park Police Department, South Gate Policy Department, and the California National Guard where children between the ages of 12 – 16 were invited to participate in a 20-week program. The program is designed to develop leadership and discipline in youth while offering guidance and support to reduce family conflict. It includes 15 weekly sessions as well as a one week long camp.
Our young clients reported that from the moment they arrived, they were verbally and physically abused, stating that the officers slapped, punched and stepped on their hands and backs while doing push-ups, and even too them into a dark room where they were beaten if they did not meet the camp supervisors’ expectations. According to the teenagers, they were given towels to clean the blood off themselves before exiting the room after the beatings. They also reported that they had been told they were going to be away from their families for three months rather than one week, that their parents didn’t love or want them, and that they were worthless.
Most of the children identified two individuals as being responsible for the mistreatment. Our understanding is that while these officers have been suspended from the LEAD boot camp program, they have still been allowed to work on patrol. Many of the children are suffering from nightmares and other emotional trauma, made worse by the fact that the responsible individuals are still out on the street.
If you know anyone who has attending this boot camp, please encourage them to contact us as soon as possible, so we can provide their families with the support they need and deserve.