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Two Los Angeles police officers are under investigation over a private weekend boot camp for troubled teens that they run in Hollywood, prompting California lawmakers to push for regulation of such camps.
The military-style boot camp was run by LAPD officers Ismael Gonzalez and Alex Nava, since February, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Based on video footage of the camp posted to YouTube, it involved aggressive tactics, including screaming and taunting the kids.
At one point, the video shows children being forced to drink water until they throw up; at another, one boy is yelled at while carrying a tire around his neck; and in at least one instance, a child is challenged to a fight.
Much of the remaining footage shows the children struggling to complete sets of push-ups and other endurance exercises.
Most of the camp's participants appear to be teenagers, but one child believed to be as young as 6 was also at the camp, which prompted the internal affairs investigation, KTLA reported. There have been no criminal charges related to investigation.
Although the program was run by LAPD officers, police spokesman Cmdr. Andy Smith, said the Police Department didn’t know about it.
“The problem is, when someone represents themselves as a Los Angeles police officer that may be leading the public or the parents to believe this is a sanctioned program, overseen by the Police Department, when in fact we don’t even know the program exits,” LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told NBCLosAngeles.com.
The program was based in Hollywood and modeled after the LAPD’s Juvenile Impact program, the Los Angeles Daily News reported, which also uses military tactics to scare wayward youth straight. The LAPD says, however, its camp has stringent controls.
The video of the camp, which has been circulating on the Internet, have prompted two Southern California lawmakers to push for more regulation of such camps.
A bill co-authored by Democratic Assembly Member Antony Portantino and state Sen. Carol Liu would require private boot camps to be licensed and accredited.
“This bill is necessary because there is no regulation in place,” Portantino said at a press conference.
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