In parts of Southern California, a renewed focus on security at public buildings following Capitol siege – OCRegister

A Los Angeles city councilman said he plans to introduce a motion calling for an assessment of City Hall’s security after the siege on the U.S. Capitol provided a stark reminder that public buildings in Southern California also could be targeted for violence.

Some cities and counties, citing a lack of current threats, said Thursday, Jan. 7, that they are not discussing increasing the fortification of their buildings, which include infrastructure such as water treatment and power plants.

But officials added that they are continually assessing security needs.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, referring to Wednesday’s events as an “attack on democracy,” will introduce the motion when the council reconvenes on Jan. 12 following the winter break.

Among the messages he said the Capitol unrest highlighted was the importance of keeping police and public safety funding levels strong.

“What that mob did was overwhelm a minimal police force,” he said in a telephone interview. “The literal seat of government was overtaken by a mob; do we still want to defund the police?”

Buscaino, a former LAPD officer, has fought efforts to cut police funding that came in calls following other unrest in 2020.

This week, he said, members of Congress were essentially held captive and under physical threat.

“I think those same congressional members who are calling to defund the police had a real-life experience yesterday,” he said.

On Wednesday, protesters both for and against President Donald Trump gathered outside City Hall and had a physical confrontation that resulted in some arrests.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said there are new concerns about local government buildings and security following the breach of the Capitol, where she served in Congress for five years.

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“I am concerned that some people would use this as an opportunity to unleash their own anger on local government offices here in Los Angeles County,” she said, noting that both city and county offices were evacuated on Wednesday. “I think law enforcement needs to be on high alert right now.”

That’s the case in Torrance, where Sgt. Alexander Martinez said the department has increased patrols around all of its city buildings as a result of the chaos at the Capitol.

City Council meetings there have been conducted via Zoom, and on Tuesday, Riverside returned to virtual council meetings, so in many cities, that’s one burden lifted from the police. Many employees at city halls are working remotely as well.

In Riverside, Councilman Jim Perry, a former Santa Clara County deputy sheriff and Fullerton police officer, said “a very proactive Police Department” that spends time developing intelligence on threats helps keep the city safe.

Planning helped Pasadena in August 2020 when a group tried to occupy City Hall.

“Within just a few hours, the Police Department was able to determine the best course of action, get all necessary resources and implement the crowd management plan to prevent such occupation,” said Lt. Bill Grisafe, a department spokesman. “Had city officials waited or not reacted at all, it is likely City Hall would have become an occupation zone, similar to what occurred in Seattle and Oregon.”

In Orange County’s seat — Santa Ana — there’s no shortage of law enforcement, namely in the Civic Center area that’s home to the superior and federal courts as well as the headquarters of the Santa Ana Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

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Law enforcement authorities there, as well as with the San Bernardino County and Riverside County sheriff’s departments, say they have made no security adjustments as a result of the Capitol insurgency.


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