Hawthorne police are collaborating with federal agencies and Internet security specialists as they beef up firewalls and evaluate threats to its officers and police station.
Hundreds have come in following the posting of a recent video showing the police shooting a dog. One of the threats appears to have come from the internet hacking group Anonymous.
An online video claims that the hackers group Anonymous is making the Hawthorne Police Department its “primary target.”
Sgt. Joe Romero with the Hawthorne Police Department said the threat was unspecific but they’re making necessary upgrades to the department’s database protection.
“The information that may get out there may compromise critical investigations or personnel,” he said.
On top of that Romero said phone lines are overwhelmed. HPD is getting help from affiliate dispatch centers.
Last Sunday, a Hawthorne police officer shot a dog four times killing it as they tried to arrest the dog's owner for interfering with a police investigation. Hawthorne police and SWAT raided a house on the 4100 block of 137th Street. The dog's owner began talking to police during the stand-off but the dog came loose from the car while officers were arresting him for obstruction.
At first, threats were aimed at the officers involved in the dog shooting. Those officers have been placed on desk duty for the time being, he said. Police also received bomb threats to the station.
The graphic video has attracted 4.5 million views on YouTube. Though an incident like this may not have attracted as much attention pre-YouTube, Romero still believes technology is the police’s ally.
“It looks very ugly but it’s just one perspective,” he said. “There were at least six or seven people who have come in that have different videos.”
Romero said one of those videos shows the dog’s owner confronting the officers before the shooting and shows the dog coming close to biting the officer in the face.
Hawthorne resident Joseph Comeau, 56, said he’s not been able to stop talking about the shooting since it happened last Sunday. He wished the cops had used pepper spray instead but said he doesn’t think the officer who fired his weapon represents the entire Hawthorne police force.
“The good thing is for that police guy to come on TV and say it, ‘I did wrong,’” Comeau said.
On Wednesday, the dog’s owner Leon Rosby told NBC Los Angeles that he wants people to stop making threats against the police department.
"Just calm down," Rosby told NBC Los Angeles. "Stop threatening them and their families. All police officers are not bad.”
Rosby was at the Hawthorne police station Friday trying to obtain the remains of his dog. Friends say he wants to hold a burial service for him.
A small memorial of dog toys, balloons and letters was swept away Friday morning from the corner where the dog died.
Neighbors say city workers collected the trinkets and power washed the bloodstains. They peek out their doors every few hours to inventory the media trucks that stop by or people who snap cell phone pictures of the empty corner.
Residents on the block shake their heads at what happened. Some point the finger at the officers, others at the dog’s owner, but all say they’re surprised at how much internet attention this small neighborhood corner has received in less than a week.