LA police brace for any disturbances 'We are confident LAPD will respond vigorously to unrest'

LOS ANGELES — LOS ANGELES -- Law enforcement officials swiftly put in motion plans to handle disturbances if any develop in the wake of today's O.J. Simpson verdict.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Eduardo Funes said the police would be prepared -- this time -- to handle any disturbances.


"The process failed in 1992 in the riots, and measures will be taken to make sure it doesn't happen again," Mr. Funes said.

"We are confident the LAPD will respond vigorously to any unrest, any unusual occurrences," he said. "However, we don't foresee or know about any planned disturbances, rallies or protests."


Police and fire officials praised Judge Lance Ito's decision to wait to announce the verdict today.

"This gives us additional time to put our plan into motion, the jury's action was so quick, came so unexpectedly," Mr. Funes said.

Mayor Richard Riordan cut short a trade mission to Asia to return to Los Angeles. "In important times, it's my responsibility to be with my fellow Angelenos," he said. He was expected to arrive this morning Pacific time, Deputy Mayor Robin Kramer said.

With Mr. Riordan and Council President John Ferraro out of town yesterday, Councilman Joel Wachs was the acting mayor. "I am very, very certain our city is prepared for anything," Mr. Wachs said yesterday. "I also feel the people of Los Angeles will act responsibly. Los Angeles is more than just the Simpson trial. I believe the people of our city very much wants fairness and the people will act responsibly."

The number of Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers was doubled thismorning by holding over the morning shift, Mr. Funes said.

Officers were instructed not to handle "minutiae" calls, freeing them to handle emergencies, Mr. Funes said.

Two platoons from LAPD's elite Metro Division, as well as mounted police, were added to security forces around the Superior Court, Mr. Funes said.

The LAPD has been on modified tactical alert since the case was turned over to the jury Friday. That means administrators keep a list of available personnel and do not authorize days off unless they were previously requested.


At the San Fernando Valley's Foothill Division, Sgt. Yana Horvatich described it as a "wait and see" mode.

"Officers will be held over if necessary, and they'll be sent out to any hot spots," she said.

Staffing at the city's Emergency Communications Center, activated since Friday, were boosted this morning.

Officials from city departments were to convene at the center to deal with emergencies, such as power outages, Mr. Funes said.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department went on tactical alert yesterday readying 50 percent of its field deputies to be sent to trouble areas, said Lt. Dennis Beene, of the Sheriff's Emergency Operations Bureau.

Sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers, will he available to respond to emergencies in the city if Police Chief Willie L. Williams requests help.


State police at California State University, Northridge, said they were in a security planning meeting when they learned the jury had reached a verdict.

Campus police will be put on 12- hour shifts, and officials plan to offer open forums for students to "vent their feelings constructively," said Lt. Michael Sugar of the university's campus police.

"We've learned how to move in and rescue individuals from a crowd," Lieutenant Sugar said.

And the fire department has changed its communications system to allow firefighters to dial a specific number to see if they are being recalled , said Capt. Leonard Thompson.