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Hemet may fortify buildings against attacks

April 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
In the wake of a series of attacks against Hemet police officers, the city council will consider emergency action to fortify some city buildings at a hearing next week. The latest attack occurred late last month, when four city trucks were set on fire in the city hall parking lot.

The first attack was on December 31. Someone rigged a gang task-force building in Hemet to blow up by rerouting a gas line, filling the building with natural gas. No one was hurt.

Then almost two months later, the building's front gate was rigged with another booby trap. This time a gun was set up to fire on the first officer to enter the building. The bullet narrowly missed the officer, and again, no one was hurt.

A pipe bomb was attached to an unmarked squad car in a third attack. The bomb unit was called in, the device was rendered safe.

"I think that any money and support that we can give to our police department and sheriff's department is well worth it," said Hemet resident Diane May. "I'd even pay more taxes for it."

Hemet Police Department Captain Dave Brown wrote a letter to the city council saying that the police department building is a likely target for future criminal acts.

Brown said he cannot go into specifics as to how they plan to fortify the headquarters and other public buildings like City Hall. Brown said the money for the project will come from a federal grant and no city funds will be used.

Last month authorities launched raids on the Vagos motorcycle club, described by police as an extreme threat against law enforcement. Authorities first believed the club was behind the attacks but have since said other groups may also be responsible.

The incidents have shaken a close-knit police department already demoralized by steep budget cuts that last year saw its officer numbers slashed by a quarter to 68. Officers are checking under cars for bombs and scouting for other potential hazards.


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