With vastly different responses by New York and Los Angeles officials in handling a threat made against schools, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today he would not second-guess local authorities, who are the best equipped to make decisions on how to react.
‘‘Local officials are ultimately responsible for making the decision they believe based on their knowledge of the community makes the most sense and is consistent with their judgment about the best way to protect the community,” Earnest said. ‘‘And the federal government certainly has a responsibility to support local officials as they make those decisions as they implement them.”
He said federal agencies are always supporting and assisting local authorities as they evaluate threats, noting that the FBI consulted with Los Angeles Unified School District officials following the threat that was received.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a former LAPD chief, criticized the decision to close all LAUSD schools, calling it an ‘‘overreaction.” New York officials received a similar threat but deemed it to be a hoax and kept schools only.
Los Angeles officials, however, defended the decision.
‘‘It is also very easy to criticize a decision when you have no responsibility for the outcome of that decision,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
‘‘These are tough times. … Southern California has been through a lot in recent weeks. Should we risk putting our children through the same?” he said.