Hot lines calm nerves before verdict in L.A. Callers assured of police readiness

April 06, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- Many of the 450 people who called th Rumor Control Hotline yesterday asked whether Los Angeles would be safe when verdicts are announced in the civil rights trial involving Rodney King.

Hot line workers tried to assuage callers' fears on the hot line's first day by providing a patient ear and information about police readiness.

"When we end the conversation, people tell us: 'Thank you. I feel better now,' " said Niki Tennant, spokeswoman for Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, whose office is running the hot line.

Throughout the day, hundreds of people called the Rumor Control Hotline and two of other hot lines that opened recently in an effort to dispel rumors and calm nerves. They also relay anonymous tips to police.

While Los Angeles residents clog the hot line, people from as far away as Minnesota and Hawaii also called to voice concern that rioting could endanger relatives in Los Angeles.

"There is some genuine fear out there, which we are trying to deal with," Ms. Tennant said.

Councilwoman Joy Picus, who is sponsoring the Information and Rumor Control Center Hotline with the Los Angeles Police Department, said, people "want to be calmed down. They want to hear someone who is authoritative and factual telling them what is happening -- or what is not happening."

One caller said she had heard a rumor that gang members would be descending on Los Angeles from out of state when the verdicts are announced.

She was told not to worry because police are being vigilant and have uncovered no such plan.

"The closer it gets to the verdict, the more apprehensive and scared people are going to be and sometimes they just need to talk to somebody else," said Los Angeles police Officer Stephanie Tisdale, a liaison for the Information and Rumor Control Center.

"I want them to understand that this time around, there is truly a plan," she said.

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