Southern California law enforcement agencies on guard around mosques

by in News

In the wake New Zealand’s deadly shooting, Southern California law enforcement agencies boosted patrols around mosques and Islamic centers on Friday, a day when Muslims traditionally gather for special prayer services.

Authorities said these patrols were just out of caution.

In Orange County, some agencies showing more of a presence at mosques and Islamic centers were the Sheriff’s Department and the Irvine and Santa Ana police departments.

“We are doing extra patrols, and we are also working with the faith groups in our community,” Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes called such incidents heartbreaking and maddening.

“All too often in our own country we have comforted and grieved with those who have been targets of terrorism and hate,” he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department said the events in New Zealand prompted it to dispatch more patrols around mosques in the city as well. Like many other departments, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reminded the community to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, even though the agency confirmed it knew of no potential threats at any of the Muslim worship centers in the county.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called for more of a law enforcement presence in a statement made shortly after the shooting.

“Dozens of innocent people were murdered inside a mosque,” Ayloush said.

Ayloush also encouraged the community to be vigilant, and advised mosque leaders to think about security measures at their worship centers.

“Evil and bigotry cannot be allowed to succeed,” he said. “We will never give in to fear and hatred.”