The Pasadena Police Department is starting a criminal investigation into a Pasadena/Altadena area boot camp based on video footage published yesterday on the Pasadena Star-News website, the Star-News reports.
The investigation will center around Monrovia-resident Kelvin "Sgt. Mac" McFarland, who has already been charged with kidnapping, extortion, and abuse in a separate incident involving his youth boot camp.
The video footage on the Star News website shows a man purported to be McFarland and others screaming at teenagers and forcing them to drink water even as one of them vomits. In another, a teenager cries as four instructors are screaming in his face.
The incidents happened at a Boy Scout camp in eastern Los Angeles County, according to the paper.
McFarland's business, Family Family First Growth Camp, actually has an Altadena mailing address, according to several web listings. The business does not appear to have its own website.
Deputy Chief Darryl Qualls told Patch that he is aware of the Altadena mailing address, but said the organization has regularly operated in Pasadena. He said that if the location where the videos are shot prove to be outside Pasadena, as the Star-News says, then the investigation will be transferred to the department that would have jurisdiction.
In the meantime, Qualls said, the department wanted to start the ball rolling since McFarland was known to have done work in Pasadena and the incident that led to his arrest and criminal charges also took place in Pasadena.
Lt. Duane Allen of the said that the department would not be involved in the investigation.
Keith "Sarge" Gibbs Denies Involvement
In addition to McFarland, the Star-News suggests that another youth boot camp instructor who used to work with him, Keith "Sarge" Gibbs, was also at the scene of the videos (the paper claims his voice can be heard on one of the videos). A representative of the Pasadena Police Department told the paper that Gibbs is not currently under investigation and said there is no visual evidence he was there.
Gibbs, an Altadena resident who formerly served on the Town Council, told Altadena Patch that he was not involved in any of the techniques shown in the videos. He said that he he could not recall for certain if he was present during the day the videos were shot, he does not condone the techniques used in the video.
"That's not what we do in our program," Gibbs said.
Gibbs runs the Sarge's Community Base, Inc./Commit II Achieve Boot Camp, and McFarland used to work for him. However, McFarland left and went into business himself unexpectedly, and took many of Gibbs' clients, a contentious split. Gibbs said.
McFarland also told the Star-News that Gibbs was pictured in the video and denied his own involvement. Gibbs does not appear to be on screen in any of the videos that the Star-News published.
Qualls said that he will likely speak with Gibbs about the videos, but said that he has no ideas if Gibbs is involved in any way.
Gibbs confirmed that his voice is on another video that the Star-News had, but suggested that the audio track might not match the actual video, and that it may have been altered. Gibbs uses the same Boy Scout camp where the footage was shot for his own program.
He said that he believes McFarland may be trying to drag him down with him by trying to make it appear like Gibbs is involved in McFarland's boot camp.
The entire incident has been difficult for him, Gibbs said. During the initial announcement of the arrest, the Pasadena Police identified McFarland's nickname as "Sarge," which is actually Gibbs' nickname. Since both also dress in fatigues and have similar businesses, McFarland's arrest hurt his own business, Gibbs said (the Altadenablog had a good article at the time about the confusion between the two).
And now, with the implication that he is involved in the actions on the tape, he fears it may happen again.
"Just when I thought I was rebuilding the credibility of my organization, bam, I get hit again," Gibb said.
He said that he favors better regulation of boot camps and said that many programs that he has seen use techniques that he would not consider using himself.