Cops in Los Angeles County were warned this week that they could be the subject of a "potential gang threat" and that they should stay vigilant.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department sent the warning bulletin to area law enforcement agencies Tuesday. Los Angeles Police Department Officer Aareon Jefferson says there were no specific, credible threats. The bulletin, he says, "was just a reminder for us to pay attention."
"We're aware of it," he adds, "and we're making sure our officers are aware of their surroundings."
While some reports said the so-called "payback" threat was more specific and that it was related to the recent police shooting of a South Gate gang member, authorities disputed this reading of the bulletin. "It's really nothing," says sheriff's Sgt. Vincent Plair. "There's no credible threat about any gang targeting law enforcement."
"It's really a reminder based on some supposed info a member of the media had found through his or her sources," he says. "We always keep our guard up."
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According to a sheriff's statement, members of the department's Homicide Bureau were recently told about "a potential threat by criminal street gangs against Southern California on-duty enforcement officers." The threat was not specific, however, and it wasn't clear what agencies would be targeted and what gangs might be behind the threat, according to the department:
"The purpose of this bulletin is to reinforce the need for law enforcement officers to be continuously alert and active in assessing their surroundings. The information upon which this bulletin is based, as well as any new information obtained, will continue to be evaluated and investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department."
The union representing rank-and-file LAPD officers decried the threat report and argued that it shows why the department needs more cops on the streets.
"It's disgusting and that is why we've fought against the early release of violent criminals and have advocated for increased neighborhood police patrols in Los Angeles," according to the Los Angeles Police Protective League's board of directors. "We must send a clear message that any attacks on law enforcement are, in fact, attacks on our communities as well."