LOS ANGELES (CBS)— The operator behind a Pasadena youth boot camp is the focus of a police investigation Friday after videos surfaced that allegedly showed camp instructors involved in questionable practices.
Kelvin “Sgt. Mac” McFarland and other instructors at “Family First Boot Camp” were caught on a video posted to the Pasadena Star News website shouting at a boy with a tire around his neck and forcing kids to drink water until they vomited.
Police told the Pasadena Star News they would launch an investigation into the footage by first questioning McFarland.
McFarland was charged earlier this year with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and extortion stemming from an separate incident.
Prosecutors allege McFarland handcuffed a truant 14-year-old girl and refused to let her leave until her family paid him an undisclosed amount of cash.
And while criticism of the footage has already echoed from City Hall to Washington, there is some debate over whether the actions actually constitute child abuse.
Dr. David Narang, child psychologist at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, believes children should be treated with compassion regardless of the circumstances.
“If a parent doesn’t know what they’re getting their kid into, the word ‘boot camp’ means nothing,” said Harang. “A boot camp can be terrific, a boot camp can be the worst thing that ever happens to this kid that leaves them scarred and damaged forever.”
McFarland has pleaded not guilty to all charges.