Los Angeles vs. New York's Response to Terrorism Threat

Two of the United States largest school districts, one in Los Angeles, and the other in New York City, both received an electronic threat at the same time earlier this week. Los Angeles took a much more cautious approach given the recent circumstances internationally and what happened in San Bernardino. Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent said, "I, as superintendent, am not going to take the chance with the life of students.”

Officials received the email threats at around 10 p.m. - 1 a.m. on the East Coast-and after authorities deliberated all night, Cortines made the shocking decision right before sunrise to close more than 900 schools with over 650,000 K-12 students. He did not learn that New York, which has around 1 million students, had received the exact same threat until hours after the decision was made.

“It's very easy to second-guess decision-makers when you don't have to live with the consequences of the decision," said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. "These decisions are not something you get to do over again if you turn out to be wrong."

The email listed named all L.A. Unified schools, but implied that the high schools were the primary target of a plan already set in motion. It warned that planted explosives would go off on Tuesday, and then they would be attacked with his “ISIS comrades.”

New York officials noticed the message did not capitalize “Allah” and included detailed information, which is not common with terrorists.  They also realized before Los Angeles that the attacker was claiming to be in the same place at the same time, which made it easier to realize that it was likely a hoax.

The threats were declared fakes officially between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. in New York, and many criticized Los Angeles decision.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said he didn’t want to “aid and abet” those who want to sow panic. “As leaders, it is our job to protect public order and keep things moving forward in this city,” he said at a news conference.

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, who previously served seven years as chief of police in Los Angeles, also called the emails a “hoax” and the response in Los Angeles “a significant overreaction.”

“This is not a credible threat and is not something we are concerned with,” he said. “What we are concerned with is overreacting to it. We will stay aware, we will stay involved, but at all costs cannot start overreacting to what will probably be a series of copycat-type initiatives.”


San Bernadino
Los Angeles
New York
Police Chief Charlie Beck
Bill de Blasio
Ramon Cortines