The Los Angeles Police Department disbanded a counter-terrorism unit this year as part of Chief Charlie Beck’s efforts to put more patrol officers on the streets amid budget cuts, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Protective Security Task Force team consisted of about two dozen plainclothes cops who were dispatched to provide a “cloak” of high-level security at buildings or events that had been threatened or were otherwise believed to be at risk, said Deputy Chief Michael Downing, head of the Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau.
Task force officers also tested the vulnerabilities of city skyscrapers, landmark buildings, and other possible high-value targets and then worked with the buildings’ private security forces to review ways to tighten their defenses. Officials said disbanding the unit was a tough decision, but stressed that it made up only a small part of police counter-terrorism efforts and that the bureau’s primary function of gathering intelligence continues. Roughly 270 people are assigned to the bureau. In light of New York City’s failed terrorist attack last weekend, the cut underscores the difficult decisions Beck faces as he struggles to mitigate the impacts of the city’s fiscal crisis. Since the Times Square bomb was discovered Saturday, city officials in New York have pressed the federal government for more anti-terrorism funding to help the New York Police Department.