New York, Los Angeles Schools React Differently After Receiving Similar Terrorist Threats Via Email


New York and Los Angeles received terrorist threats late night of Dec. 14. Though the threat was addressed to major schools in both areas, the respective officials had different ways of handling the situation.

Officials in Los Angeles received the bomb threat through email, prompting authorities to close more than 900 schools in the unified district on Dec. 15. The shutdown drove parents to immediately look for day care since many were working that day.

Paranoia over the terrorist scare was fueled by an incident on Dec. 2 when Islamic radicals opened fire at an office party in San Bernardino.

By Tuesday evening, FBI agents had cleared all campuses of danger and suspected the threat was a hoax. Not long after, school officials announced the resumption of classes on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

"We believe that our schools are safe and we can reopen schools in Los Angeles Unified School District tomorrow morning," Steve Zimmer, president of the school board, said during an interview.

For Los Angeles officials, the risk was too great for them not to act, leading them to cancel classes. Officials also asked employers to give ample consideration and flexibility for parents to take care of their children.

In New York, on the other hand, the school superintendent immediately forwarded the threat to the Police Department. In the morning of Dec. 15, the Intelligence Division conducted an investigation together with the FBI. By 9 a.m., the officials announced that the email was a hoax and did not represent a threat.

"This is not a credible threat and is not something we are concerned with," said New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

"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," he added.

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