The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Friday it is investigating a potential threat against several City Council members and a security breach at City Hall.
The investigation began after a serrated, metal cutting tool was found in the council chamber sitting on top of an agenda form with some of the council members’ names underlined, and with dates written next to them.
The discovery was made on a chamber pew at the conclusion of the Dec. 14 council meeting, which was the last one held before the council went on holiday recess until 2017.
Members of the public must pass through metal detectors before entering City Hall, and the LAPD is still unsure how the five-inch tool got into the council chamber, said Senior Lead Officer Grant Hiramoto.
“Officers are now looking at tape from the meeting to try and determine who was sitting in that area,” Hiramoto told City News Service.
Hiramoto added that some construction work had been going on in the general area where the tool was found and a worker may have left it there it accidentally, although officers have been unable to determine its origin.
The agenda had five council members’ names underlined with dates scribbled next to them. All of the dates are upcoming over the next several weeks before the council is set to come back in session the second week of January.
Much of the writing on the agenda is illegible, but also includes the words “CIA,” “money,” “Vote USA” and “USMC,” which is sometimes used as an abbreviation for the United States Marine Corps.
An email sent by an LAPD officer to City Council staff read, “We also noted some other writings which possibly indicates the author may have a mental health issue.”
The email also said the City Attorney’s Workplace Violence Unit had been advised of the incident. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, said he could not confirm if the unit was actively investigating due to some employees being out of the office for the holidays.
The LAPD’s Threat Management Unit was advised of the situation but opted not to pursue it, so the investigation is being handled by officers at City Hall, Hiramoto said.
Security concerns at City Hall have been an issue over the last year. In June, a frequent council gadfly named Armando Herman brought a box cutter to a Public Safety Committee hearing. The item was discovered by LAPD officers as he was being ejected from the meeting for being disruptive.
The incident led Councilman Mitch Englander, who had requested Herman be removed, to say City Hall’s metal detectors were old and a new security plan with new equipment had been approved.
Several LAPD officers working the entrance to City Hall on Friday said the metal detectors had been replaced months ago after the box-cutter incident and pointed to the old detectors that were still sitting in the corner near the entrance.
“We are in the process of rebuilding the main public entrance with new and enhanced security systems,” Englander told City News Service Friday. “We take these threats very seriously and will investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
In May, attorney Wayne Spindler was arrested after submitting a comment card containing Ku Klux Klan imagery and a racial slur during a meeting chaired by Council President Herb Wesson, who is black.
Wesson said he took the card as a personal threat, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that Spindler would not be charged.
— City News Service