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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS / PROPOSITION 187 : Police Making Contingency Plans : Law enforcement agencies in Orange County express confidence that the anti-initiative protests will continue to be peaceful on day of the vote and after.

November 04, 1994|ROBERT J. LOPEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — Preparing for possible outbreaks of civil unrest, law enforcement agencies across Los Angeles County are planning for maximum deployment of officers if voters approve Proposition 187.

At a meeting Tuesday organized by the Sheriff's Department, about 200 representatives of police and fire departments discussed mutual aid procedures, shared intelligence information and went over possible scenarios that could lead to violence, if the measure is passed.

Law enforcement officials from Pomona to South Gate said Thursday that their departments will be on heightened states of alert when voters go to the polls Tuesday and the next day.

"We are anticipating that there will be some demonstrating," said Capt. Bruce Hagerty, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. "As long as they are peaceful, it will be fine. But if they become unlawful, we will take necessary action. "

Hagerty said the LAPD will flood the streets with extra officers and be prepared to go on tactical alert.

In Orange County, none of the largest law enforcement organizations has plans to deploy extra officers, officials said.

"We aren't planning anything extraordinary," said Lt. Tom Garner of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "Everything is going to be normal."

High school students in several cities, including Santa Ana, Fullerton and Costa Mesa, have staged demonstrations against Proposition 187. Because those rallies did not result in major problems, authorities said they have no reason to expect trouble on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"Everything with the students went very smoothly," said Santa Ana Police Sgt. Bob Clark. "Nothing out of the ordinary is going on, and we hope it will stay that way."

The Orange Police Department plans to deploy "a few" extra officers Tuesday, in keeping with a longtime Election Day practice. However, they will be on standby to help voters, said Police Sgt. Barry Weinstein.

Several police departments, including Fullerton's, are still considering plans for Election Day and Wednesday, officials said. Costa Mesa police don't plan any extra deployment, but a spokesman said the department could call up more officers if trouble breaks out.

Opposition to Proposition 187 has already sparked widespread protests, including a walkout Wednesday by more than 10,000 students from campuses throughout the Southland.

Although police emphasize that they will be on hand only if they are needed, some community leaders voiced fears that a large law enforcement presence could backfire and provoke violence.

"As far as I'm concerned, it is going to add to an already explosive tension that is in our communities," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, executive director of the One Stop Immigration and Educational Center, who had called for the countywide school walkout Wednesday.

Officials who attended the law enforcement meeting, at the sheriff's Century station in Lynwood, said they were told that, if violence breaks out, it would probably occur late Tuesday or Wednesday after the votes are tallied. They were also told that agitators, including members of several street gangs, had tried to start trouble at previous demonstrations, such as the huge Downtown protest Oct. 16.

"If something happens after the elections, there is a possibility that outside influences will try to exploit the situation," said one official who attended the meeting.

To direct mutual aid requests, the Sheriff's Department will staff its emergency operations center in East Los Angeles on Tuesday. The center, which is in operation during large-scale incidents, is equipped with computerized tracking and communications equipment to aid coordination among various agencies, officials said.

The LAPD's Hagerty said personal days and comp time will not be allowed Tuesday or Wednesday. And street patrols will be beefed up by reassigning officers from anti-gang units and other specialized details.

In Compton, where 12 people were arrested on charges of vandalism during Wednesday's student demonstrations, police were already increasing patrols Thursday and were planning to go on tactical alert Election Day. The department also has canceled all leaves until further notice, officials said.

"I can assure you, we will have sufficient personnel to handle any situation that might arise," Capt. Percy Perrodin said.

In an attempt to defuse tensions, Pomona police were to meet with student leaders and school officials Thursday night at department headquarters. Officials said they hoped to persuade students to hold campus forums instead of staging mass walkouts.

"We hope to draft a flyer with the student leadership to just give the message that no matter what happens on Election Day that (students') hurt not be channeled into violence and destruction of our community," said Capt. Joe Romero of the Pomona Police Department.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who visited Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles and Alhambra High School on Thursday to urge students not to stage walkouts, also planned to appear on Spanish-language television to appeal for calm.

Officials in the Los Angeles Unified School District sent out instructions to school administrators Thursday asking that they attempt to calm tensions by holding campus rallies and forums.

Los Angeles school administrators are scheduled to meet with LAPD officials today to discuss contingency plans for the day after the election, school spokesman Bill Rivera said.

"Our people are pretty experienced with tense situations," he said. "So they know how to handle what might come up."

Times correspondent Shelby Grad contributed to this report.

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