Law enforcement officials from across the Los Angeles area say they’ve been monitoring the potential for Inauguration Day violence for months and have yet to identify any specific or credible threats.
Both the L.A. Police Department and L.A. County sheriff’s officials are increasing patrols and deployments on Wednesday, and all sworn officers will be uniformed and ready to respond to disturbances. But no rioting is expected in the Southland, according to leaders from LAPD, the Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.
“Right now there is no credible threat,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a Tuesday afternoon briefing with officials from several agencies. “But regardless of that, our mission is to act as if there was one. We are prepared.”
There are three demonstrations planned in L.A. for Wednesday — one at City Hall, one at MacArthur Park and another at a third park, according to Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore.
Villanueva said he was not aware of other events permitted elsewhere in L.A. County.
The FBI has a 24-hour command post assigned to identify threats, but so far has no indication of any specific or credible threat across seven Southern California counties, said Christy Johnson, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Along with the increased deployment of local law enforcement officers, there are 200 National Guard troops on standby at the federal training base in Los Alamitos. Gov. Gavin Newsom last week mobilized 1,000 National Guard members statewide amid concerns about civil unrest.
“We have no plans or desire to deploy these troops, but they are ready if needed,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “We certainly do not expect violence. But we are prepared to keep our city safe no matter what from all and any threats that may arise.”
L.A. officials are collaborating with authorities from the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other state, federal and local agencies, Villanueva said.
“Given the deadly acts of domestic terrorism which occurred at the Capitol last week, we have ensured we are prepared for whatever may occur here,” he said. “As the saying goes, we hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
The Sheriff’s Department also sent 38 deputies to D.C. to assist with inauguration security, Villanueva said.
Garcetti, a co-chair of Joe Biden’s national inaugural committee, said he will not be attending the event in person due to the pandemic.
“We have a 10-day quarantine here in Los Angeles. How can I expect anybody to respect that if I don’t respect a five-day quarantine in Washington D.C. that Mayor [Muriel] Bowser has? So this is about public health first,” he said.
“And quite frankly, I can’t spare a day here,” Garcetti added, saying he planned to spend Wednesday at Dodger Stadium propping up the city’s vaccination efforts after availability was expanded to all residents age 65 and older.
With the county still suffering the effects of a lengthy virus surge, officials urged Angelenos to celebrate the inauguration at home.
“We’re losing too many lives in public places and exposing ourselves needlessly,” Moore said. “So please, stay home. You’re safer at home.”
Authorities also vowed swift action should any violence or destruction arise.
“Should acts of vandalism or violence take place, we will take immediate action, make arrests, and prosecute those individuals vigorously,” Moore said.
Anyone with information about criminal or suspicious activity surrounding Inauguration Day in L.A. can contact the FBI’s L.A. office at 310-477-6565 or visit tips.fbi.gov.