Saturday, March 20, 2010

can broke states maintain their unbeaten record?

Salon | Police in this picturesque city in rural Riverside County have been on edge in recent weeks. Someone is trying to kill them.

First, a natural gas pipe was shoved through a hole drilled into the roof of the gang enforcement unit's headquarters. The building filled with flammable vapor but an officer smelled the danger before anyone was hurt.

"It would have taken out half a city block," Capt. Tony Marghis said. Then, a ballistic contraption was attached to a sliding security fence around the building. An officer opening the black steel gate triggered the mechanism, which sent a bullet within eight inches of his face.

In another attempted booby trap attack, some kind of explosive device was attached to a police officer's unmarked car while he went into a convenience store.

"There's a person or people out there, a bunch of idiots, trying to do damage to us," Hemet Police Chief Richard Dana said. "We can't expect our luck to hold up, we need help."

Since New Year's Eve, there have been several other booby trap attempts to kill officers, Dana said.

"The only reason they haven't killed an officer yet is because we've been observant enough to see devices planted around the station and in cars and different places," he said.

Gang enforcement officers appear to be the target of the assassination attempts, though Dana noted the devices were indiscriminate by nature and could have killed any police or law enforcement officer.

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.

"I would call the mood tense," Capt. Marghis said. "Everyone is being very vigilant about their surroundings and the environment."

Dana said officers have seen gang members carrying out counter-surveillance, studying police behavior. He often looks in his rear view mirror when he drives home at night to make sure he is not being followed. Fist tap Dale.