Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday downplayed a perceived dispute between Los Angeles and New York officials over the handling of similar threats sent to schools in both cities, leading to no closures on the East Coast but the daylong shuttering of the entire Los Angeles Unified School District.
“The back-and-forth between New York and Los Angeles, I think it’s been way exaggerated and overplayed,” Garcetti said.
Officials in New York on Tuesday received an emailed threat similar to the one that led to the LAUSD closure. But New York officials deemed the threat to be a hoax, and kept schools open. New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a former Los Angeles Police Department chief, told reporters Tuesday that closing the entire LAUSD appeared to be a “significant overreaction.”
Beck, however, called it irresponsible for anyone to second-guess the decision to close the schools, saying the safety of children is a paramount concern.
Officials on both coasts today insisted there was no finger-pointing or criticism coming from either side.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Bratton said there as “been an effort made to pit Chief Beck — a close personal friend and colleague — against me and vice versa.” But he downplayed any dispute.
“They made a decision based on their analysis in their situation. We made one here based on our analysis of our situation, Bratton said.
Beck said the actions taken on both coasts were valid.
“I think given the information that both had when they had it, they made choices that are entirely defensible,” he said.
Garcetti said he spoke to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday, and the mayors both expressed support for the other.
“Remember when they found out, the L.A. thing was already public, so they were the first ones to be able to say, ‘Oh look, this looks like the same thing,”‘ Garcetti said. “When we had it, we didn’t have any other cities that had looked at that. In fact, New York already had their kids at school.”
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said there were key differences between the emails that contributed to the disparate responses. He noted, for instance, that the Los Angeles email author claimed to have 32 accomplices ready to attack schools — an unlikely but not completely implausible number — but the New York missive claimed there were 138 people ready to take part, a much less-credible scenario.
Sherman also noted that the email sent to New York was received at 5 a.m. local time and may not have been actually read until later, making it too late to close New York schools. Officials there eventually learned about the similar threat sent to Los Angeles, making both far less credible, Sherman said.
—City News Service
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