SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Four Southern California police officers have been arrested on suspicion of child cruelty for allegedly abusing youngsters at a boot camp.
Two Huntington Park officers and two from the South Gate force were arrested this week by deputies from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, which says they were released on bail.
Messages seeking comment from the officers weren't immediately returned Wednesday.
The investigation involved allegations that children were cut, bruised and beaten bloody in May during a boot camp for troubled youths that the two police departments ran in San Luis Obispo.
One boy reportedly had a fractured hand.
Investigators identified 15 alleged victims ranging from 12 to 17 years old.
The South Gate Police Department says it takes allegations of wrongdoing seriously and will cooperate with investigators.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Four Southern California police officers were arrested on suspicion of child cruelty for allegedly abusing more than a dozen youngsters at a boot camp, it was reported Wednesday.
Huntington Park officers Marissa Larios, 36, and Patrick Nijland, 47, and South Gate officers Carlos Gomez-Marquez, 31, and Edgar Gomez, 35, were arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday, said a statement from the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office.
Each officer was released after posting $20,000 bail, sheriff's spokesman Tony Cipolla said.
The four were drill instructors at a weeklong boot camp for troubled youngsters that was held in May at the National Guard base in San Luis Obispo, a coastal community about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Nearly 40 youngsters attended the L.E.A.D. program, short for Leadership, Empowerment and Discipline. It had operated for 17 years without complaint.
However, after the most recent camp, parents said their children reported being slapped, kicked, stomped and beaten bloody at times. One boy returned home with a fractured hand.
Investigators identified 13 alleged victims ranging from 12 to 17 years old, Cipolla said.
The injuries included "bruising to the face, bruised ribs, a lot of abrasions," he said. "I think generally roughed up would be a good description."
The four officers were arrested on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child and other crimes including abuse under color of authority.
"We really take no pleasure in arresting members of the law enforcement profession. But at the end of the day, we realize that no one is above the law," Cipolla said.
The case will be submitted to the San Luis Obispo County district attorney's office, which will decide whether to file criminal charges.
Emails to Larios and Nijland seeking comment were not immediately returned Wednesday. A call seeking comment from William Hadden, the attorney for Gomez and Gomez-Marquez, also was not immediately returned.
The South Gate officers have been placed on administrative leave, according to a Police Department statement Wednesday. The department takes allegations of wrongdoing seriously and is cooperating with investigators, the statement said.