Hemet looks to ‘harden’ targeted facilities

In the wake of attacks against Hemet police officers, the City Council will consider a resolution next week to take emergency measures to “harden” city buildings against violence.

A council resolution cites law enforcement intelligence indicating that city buildings are the likely targets of attacks. A primary target is Police Department headquarters, according to city documents.

“Intelligence reports indicate that the police facility is the likely focus of future criminal acts,” Capt. Dave Brown wrote in a memo to council members. “Immediate action is required to harden these facilities.”

No specific suspects have been named. But last month, authorities led raids on the Vagos motorcycle gang, which was described as an “extreme threat” to law enforcement. The group has a large presence in Hemet. Thirty people were arrested on charges that included possession of drugs and weapons.

In recent months, the attacks have involved booby traps set up at the headquarters of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force, officials said.

In December, a gas utility line was redirected to fill the offices with gas. Officials said a spark could have triggered a devastating explosion.

In February, a modified handgun was hidden by the gate to the task force office and rigged to discharge. When a gang officer opened the gate, the weapon went off, narrowly missing him.

Then in early March, police said, a “dangerous” device was found near the unmarked car of a task force member. That was followed by the arson of several city trucks on March 23.

The City Council will take up the matter Tuesday at its regularly scheduled meeting. If approved, city officials could immediately begin awarding no-bid contracts to fortify areas such as public lobbies in city buildings.