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Police step up patrols near Sacramento mosques, schools after Christchurch shooting

Hannah Darden

March 15, 2019

The Sacramento Bee

In the wake of the terrorist attack at two mosques that killed 49 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, local law enforcement are stepping up patrols and reaching out to mosques.

Both the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento Police Department have increased patrol presence near Muslim schools and places of worship, according to the departments.

Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley, said CAIR reached out to local law enforcement Thursday night after hearing about the attacks. He said Friday morning he also received messages from law enforcement that they would be stepping up patrols.

“People are angry, fearful, strong, resilient ... we can’t allow the murderer to win by sowing fear,” Elkarra said. He said he does not want fear to prevent anyone from attending their house of worship.

The police department is increasing patrols throughout the weekend, said department spokesperson Linda Matthew. She said patrol officers reached out this morning to the mosques on their beat to let them know about the increased presence but also to ask questions.

Matthew said that because the officers reached out to the mosques, some have learned of new areas where the Muslim community gathers that they may have been previously unaware of.

The sheriff’s department is stepping up patrols near Muslim schools and places of worship, according to an emailed statement from Sheriff Scott Jones.

“We are closely monitoring the tragedy in New Zealand, and are working with our federal and allied law enforcement partners through our intelligence and threat assessment centers to ensure there is no local connection or threat,” said Jones in the statement.

“At this point, there appears to be no local threat, but we have increased patrol presence near our Muslim schools and places of worship. Our investigational efforts are ongoing and we will update if warranted.”

Elkarra said that CAIR will work with law enforcement and local mosque leadership to determine how long increased patrols should stay in place.

Elkarra also said the Muslim community has been “expecting this for a long time,” practicing active shooter drills with law enforcement and creating security plans. He said the community has been “preparing for the worst-case scenario.”

“The symbols (the shooter) used were the same used in Charlottesville,” Elkarra said. “... Hate in America does have international repercussions.”

Read the full story here.

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