LAPD Chief Charlie Beck is defending Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Ramon Cortines’s decision to close the district’s schools on Tuesday because of an emailed threat.
In New York, officials decided to ignore a similar warning, keeping its schools open.
At a press conference to discuss the schools’ closures, which affected over 700,000 students, Beck informed the press that the threat involved violence to students and campuses utilizing a bomb, and an “attack with assault rifle and machine pistols,” as laist.com reported. He stated:
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?
The Los Angeles Times quoted Beck as saying, “It’s easy to second-guess decision makers when you don’t have to live with the consequences of the decision. These decisions are not something you get to do over again if you turn out to be wrong.”
In contrast, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, LAPD Chief from 2002 to 2009, decided that the threat to New York schools was “non-credible,” as it spelled “Allah” with a lower case “a”, which he deemed a jihadist would not do.
Beck, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines, and Mayor Eric Garcetti pointed out the closeness of the threat to the recent massacre in San Bernardino, and also attested that their decision was made before they knew about the decision in New York.
Beck added that the threatening email came via Germany, but be believed the origin of the email to be “much closer than Germany.”
Garcetti allowed, “The decision to close the schools is not mine to make, but it is mine to support.”