NORTHRIDGE (CBSLA.com) – Local law enforcement officials are beefing up security even though there are no known specific threats in Southern California in the wake of last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.
The Los Angeles Police Department is also counting on its outreach to the local Muslim community, which condemns the attacks, for early warnings of trouble.
“This was a barbaric act, and it’s got no place in our religion,” said Ehsan Khan of the Islamic Center Northridge.
Deputy Chief Michael Downing is the head of the Counter Terrorism Special Operations Bureau at the Los Angeles Police Department. He said Paris is a game-changer for his department.
“Multi-synchronized, coordinated attack. And it wasn’t detected. That’s a problem for us,” Downing said. “So, we need a lot of help from the communities. We need a lot of help from people to tell us when they see suspicious activity occurring.”
A new ISIS video promises more attacks in other Western countries including the United States.
Downing said the LAPD, which holds regular town hall meetings with the local Muslim community, needs its help.
Downing will not say whether the LAPD has received important intelligence from the Muslim community as a result of the relationship. He said: “We don’t do it for the purpose of developing intelligence. We really do it for the purpose of building resiliency and community so that bad things are harder to take root. But of course, if somebody feels like if they’re American, they feel like they participate, they don’t want bad things to happen to their kids. So, they’re going to help us. They’re going to work with law enforcement.”
Members of the local mosques said not only do they help the LAPD whenever possible, they’re also trying to head off online ISIS recruitment aimed at young people.
“We still want to always emphasize to our kids that this is not what we are. This is not who we are. This is not how we think,” said Khan. “Our ideologies are totaling different. And we’re trying to enforce it, and centers like these are playing a good role.”
According to national law enforcement officials, the LAPD’s program, which tries to cultivate a strong relationship with the local Muslim community, has become a model program for law enforcement around the country.