Since Monday’s deadly twin explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles have been on high alert and flooded with calls from residents reporting suspicious packages.
The bombs that exploded in Boston – killing three people and injuring about 176 people – were created with what appear to be pressure cookers, according to federal investigators.
"We had a pressure cooker that was left in a parking lot in northeast that was sitting right next to a car in the parking lot, which, again, is suspicious, so we had to respond to that," said LAPD Cmdr. Blake Chow, with the department’ counter terrorism and special operations bureau.
That call turned out to be a false alarm. This week alone, 14 other calls came into the department reporting suspicious packages.
"We treat every call as though it’s a real device until we prove to ourselves otherwise," Chow said.
That was the case Thursday at Cal State Los Angeles when a caller told law enforcement that a bomb was going to explode on campus. The report prompted the evacuation of the campus while LAPD’s bomb squad and campus police swept through the university buildings.
No explosive device was found.
And even though Thursday’s false alarm was the fifth bomb scare this week that turned out to be nothing, authorities are not discouraging the public from calling 911.
"We want to impress upon people, don't be afraid to call us if you see something unusual – especially if someone is at an event, leaves a backpack laying somewhere and walks off," Chow said. "That's potentially what happened in Boston. You have to ask yourself, if someone seen that and notified an officer before the device went off, would outcome have been the same?"
Law enforcement across Southern California are beefing up patrols as a precaution ahead of this weekend, during which several iconic SoCal events are planned.