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LAPD Steps Up High-Rise Patrols

August 03, 2004|Andrew Blankstein and Noam N. Levey | Times Staff Writers

In response to terror alerts on the East Coast, Los Angeles public safety officials announced Monday that they had increased security patrols at skyscrapers and financial institutions downtown, along the Wilshire Corridor and in Century City.

At a news conference at the Port of Los Angeles, Mayor James K. Hahn and Police Chief William J. Bratton said federal authorities had assured them there were no known terrorist plots aimed at Los Angeles.

But the mayor and police chief said they were in the process of redeploying hundreds of officers to corporate and financial institutions following a federal government decision Sunday to raise terrorist threat levels in New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

The Los Angeles Police Department also will work with the owners of city skyscrapers to establish emergency response plans.

"There is no information about any threat directed against the Southern California area," Hahn said. "Nevertheless, we have remained on a heightened state of vigilance because we are the second-largest population area in the country, and we have a number of sensitive sites like the Port of Los Angeles."

Coast Guard officials at the port, however, said they had no plans to increase security patrols, but would stage a mock radiological or "dirty" bomb drill this week.

U.S. government officials, citing unusually detailed information, warned Sunday of plans by terrorists to attack financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

The plans, which suggested the use of car and truck bombs, prompted officials to elevate the terrorist threat level in those cities to orange, indicating a high possibility of terrorist attack. The rest of the nation remains at yellow, or elevated risk -- the midpoint of the scale.

LAPD counterterrorism chief John Miller said police have begun to set up checkpoints downtown to conduct random checks of trucks. Officers will check the drivers' credentials and their vehicles for safety violations. Officers also will watch for suspicious vehicles in other parts of the city, he said.

Police increased patrols around malls in the West Los Angeles area in April after federal Homeland Security officials received an anonymous tip that terrorists were plotting to blow up a shopping mall. Authorities later called the incident a hoax.

Zameer Mohamed, 23, a citizen of Tanzania who once lived in the Los Angeles area, is awaiting trial in federal court in that case and faces charges of making false statements.


Times staff writer Monte Morin contributed to this report.

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