Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Threatening letter sent to Harrisburg, Yonkers police departments: 'Kill all cops'


Harrisburg police threat.JPG
Harrisburg police received this threatening letter Dec. 26.

By Christine Vendel
on January 05, 2015 at 3:31 PM, updated January 05, 2015 at 4:49 PM

HARRISBURG – Harrisburg police are trying to identify the writer of a threatening letter sent to the department the day after Christmas that said, in part, "Kill all cops."

A similar letter also postmarked from Harrisburg was sent to police in Yonkers, New York, Harrisburg Police Chief Tom Carter told PennLive Monday.

"Poor Scumbag Cops," the writer penned, using little punctuation and capitalizing each word. "Afraid To Be Alone Kill All Cops."

The letter arrived at police headquarters at 123 Walnut Street in downtown Harrisburg in a plain white envelope. It was addressed to "Harrisburg police," with a Liberty Bell stamp and no return address.

Police are treating the letter as a criminal act. Detectives are checking for fingerprints and other evidence that can be recovered from the letter.

Carter also talked with area police chiefs, including leaders from Swatara Township and Susquehanna Township, to alert them to the possible threat that could affect their officers.
"Regardless of the message they want to send us, we're not going to back down." - Harrisburg police Chief Tom Carter
"It wasn't only about Harrisburg," Carter said.

Officers in Harrisburg haven't been threatened directly in recent weeks, after two New York City police officers were assassinated while sitting in their patrol car. That fatal ambush came amid heightened community-police tensions across the country. 

Officers in Harrisburg have noticed more "looks and smirks, but no verbal threats," Carter said.

Although Harrisburg police are no longer requiring officers to ride in pairs, that doesn't mean the heightened danger for officers has passed, Carter said.

He said he's aware of postings on social media that reflect hate toward police and some that use emoticons, or icons of facial expressions, wearing police hats with guns pointed at the officers' heads.

"That's a problem," he said. "It weighs heavily on me and all police chiefs across the country, who are responsible for the welfare and safety of their officers. I can only imagine what (New York City Police) Commissioner Bill Bratton feels about his officers getting ambushed and killed."

Carter said the person who sent the letter to Harrisburg police was likely trying to feel powerful or intimidate officers. But he said his officers won't be deterred.

"We are not going to stop doing our jobs, serving the public with dignity," he said. "Regardless of the message they want to send us, we're not going to back down."

Carter said he has gladly met with leaders of a local protest group, This Stops Today Harrisburg, which formed after recent verdicts in high profile fatal police encounters.

They staged a "die-in" at the state capitol and presented a list of goals to city council members designed to improve police accountability.

"They've been great," Carter said. "I respect them. It's about saving our youth and improving diversity. We can work together to achieve shared goals."


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