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LAPD: It's Too Easy To Criticize The LAUSD Shutdown With Hindsight
The Los Angeles Unified School District held a press conference this morning to discuss the closure of all district campuses, during which LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was highly defensive of the district's decision.LAUSD shut down all campuses this morning because of a terrorist threat emailed to school board members, canceling classes for over 700,000 students. Schools in New York City received the same threats, but chose to keep their schools open. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who served as LAPD Chief from 2002 to 2009, determined that the threat was "non-credible" and probably made by someone who watches too much Homeland.
At today's presser, Beck, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines and Mayor Eric Garcetti defended the district's unprecedented shut down, indicating that the decision was made prior to finding out about the threats in New York. They were also quick to mention the recent San Bernardino shootings as a reason for the high concern. Cortines said that he "could not take the chance" after receiving the threat.
Beck, in particular, seemed to be directing his comments towards Bratton, his former sandwich rival, and other critics:
We support the Superintendent's decision, and I would say this to people who are critical: it is very easy, in hindsight, to criticize the decision based on results that the decider never could have known. It's also easy to criticize a decision when you have no responsibility for the outcome of that decision. The school safeguards three quarters of a million lives every day. When they take into account the safety of the children of Los Angeles, I think it's irresponsible based on facts that have yet to be determined to criticize that decision at this point. All of us make tough choices. All of us have the same goal in mind. We want to keep our children safe. These are tough times. Our community... has been through a lot in recent weeks. Should we risk putting our children through the same?
Beck revealed few details because of the ongoing investigation, but said that the threat came via email and threatened violence to students and campuses via a bomb and "attack with assault rifle and machine pistols." He said the email seemed to have been routed through Germany, but the origin hasn't been determined.
"We believe it to be much closer than Germany," he said.
L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that the schools will be open after they have been cleared. Police are searching each of the campuses. Thus far, West Hollywood schools have been cleared.
Garcetti said, "The decision to close the schools is not mine to make, but it is mine to support." He noted that the LAPD supported LAUSD today, just as they supported law enforcement in San Bernardino during the shooting.
The mayor also communicated this morning with Metro CEO Phil Washington to ensure that students could use all Metro buses and trains for free today.
"We know a lot of parents still have to get to work and can't afford to miss one day," he said.
Students will also be able to gain free access to LACMA and the recently opened Petersen Museum today.
He also encouraged Angelenos to remain vigilant and use the iWatchLA app if they spotted something suspicious.
There have been no threats leveled against private schools or universities at this time, and some nearby districts have chosen to remain open. Glendale schools, for instance, are open today, according to a release from the Glendale Police Department. LAUSD schools will remain closed for the rest of the day.
Parents/Guardians: Schools will not reopen today. All notifications will come from official LAUSD accounts, connect ed messages, or website.— Los Angeles Unified (@LASchools) December 15, 2015