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Security Efforts Have Made L.A. Safer, Hahn Says

Preparation: Extra officers will be deployed Wednesday, even though no terrorist threats have been received.

September 10, 2002|BETH SHUSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

To reassure residents that Los Angeles is safe, Mayor James K. Hahn said Monday the Police Department will deploy more officers throughout the city on Wednesday, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

"We're taking all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of Los Angeles," the mayor said at a news conference held with other city officials at the city's Emergency Operations Board Room, four floors below city offices. "We don't have any information whatsoever about any threats to Los Angeles or its citizens, but we are being very vigilant nonetheless."

The LAPD will be on a citywide tactical alert, meaning that it will have one-third more officers available from tonight until after midnight on Wednesday. Officers will conduct more patrols, and such specialized units as the bomb squad, hazardous materials teams and the air support unit will be available at a special location where they can quickly respond to an emergency, according to LAPD Cmdr. Mark Leap.

Additionally, the city's Fire Department, which is already on heightened alert for brush fire season, will be prepared to respond to any emergency, the fire chief said.

The city's stepped-up security plans for Wednesday mirror efforts across the country. Other cities, including New York and some in New Jersey, for example, are planning heightened public law enforcement presences.

The mayor used the approaching anniversary of the terrorist attacks to review the city's security measures implemented since last year. Overall, the city has conducted an assessment of security-related needs in all departments, including the airport and the Department of Water and Power. Hahn said the city has spent $70 million in security improvements since Sept. 11 and identified $130 million worth of additional improvements.

Among those measures already taken are:

* The mayor has unveiled his $9.6-billion plan for upgrading LAX terminals with a focus on security.

* The Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a $132-million plan to protect the city's water supply from sabotage.

* The LAPD identified 450 potential high-risk targets, such as entertainment venues, government buildings and religious institutions, and developed plans for improving security at those locations.

* The city is participating in an early warning terrorism task force that works with local, state and federal agencies to share information and identify potential risks.

"The city," Hahn said, "is safer today than it was a year ago."

And, the mayor vowed to continue strengthening security. "As long as necessary, we're going to continue to guard Los Angeles and its residents from those who believe that terrorism is an acceptable way to make their point," Hahn said.

The LAPD is planning a training program, set to begin in the spring, for all officers to learn new ways of responding to potential terrorist attacks. Assistant Chief J.I. Davis said the department is developing the training program that relies in part on advice from security experts in other parts of the country and the world. The LAPD sent officers to Israel, for example, to examine efforts there.

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