Anti-terror team seeks more cops

first_imgAfter sharply questioning the impact on Los Angeles Police Department operations, a city panel on Monday reluctantly recommended adding 44 police officers to a counterterrorism task force. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and FBI Deputy Director Steve Tidwell appealed to the City Council Public Safety Committee for the additional officers, saying the growing terrorist threat must be addressed. “The threat is always going to be high here,” Tidwell said. “Historically, terrorists have said they will hit here, and they always complete the loop. It becomes almost a matter of honor. ” Tidwell said intelligence sources have warned about another attack on the United States, including the threat from domestic terrorists who have taken up ideological causes. “In a perfect world, I wouldn’t even be asking these questions, but it’s not a perfect world; this is the LAPD,” Smith said. “You are talking about taking our most experienced officers out of the field. We don’t have enough field-training officers now to handle all the recruits coming out of the academy. And when I go out to the Valley stations, all I see are probationary officers that we have thrown out there without the proper training.” Councilman Dennis Zine, a retired LAPD sergeant who also represents the Valley and works as a reserve officer, added his concerns about the plan. “We have gang crime continuing to grow in the Valley, and I don’t see the department responding to it,” Zine said. “We have officers out there who have no backup.” Smith added he believes the department is becoming too specialized. “I’m afraid we’re coming to the day when people will call 911 and get a recorded message saying, `Push 1 to report a terrorist threat, push 2 for a gang crime, and push Operator for all other crimes,”‘ Smith said. The proposal now goes to the full City Council for consideration. It also includes a provision to fund the assignment of the new officers – estimated at $1.8 million for a full year – by delaying the purchase of 9,000 new Tasers for officers. Deputy Chief Mike Downing, who heads the LAPD’s counterterrorism effort, argued the work was a top priority for all officials who are worried about a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “Nothing about policing this city is simplistic,” Downing said, noting the number of terrorist threats investigated has soared from 17 last year to 48 this year, and is expected to grow. Downing said the investigations have resulted in more than 200 arrests, and have averted more serious threats. Downing and the other officials noted the anti-terrorism task force also deals with crimes such as those involving street gangs and drug trafficking. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “In my 24 years in the bureau and eight years as a police officer, I have never seen such a huge potential threat,” Tidwell said. Baca said the additional officers – who will be part of a 276-member task force of federal, county and local law enforcement personnel – is critical to maintaining the flow of information and developing expertise within individual departments. “If you pull resources from this effort, it will weaken our resolve and our capability to investigate threats,” Baca said. “Very simply, we need people to make sure we can deal with the threats.” But the panel questioned the impact of the assignment on basic services provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, particularly in the sprawling San Fernando Valley. “I went out to stations last week and found the Valley stations were operating with only 50 or 60 percent of the staffing,” said Councilman Greig Smith, who represents the Northwest Valley and also volunteers as a reserve police officer. last_img