Philly PD step up checks on mosques, synagogues

May 3, 2011 9:32:51 AM PDT
While there have been no specific threats, Philadelphia police stepped up patrols at transportation hubs, religious sites, historic places and other public areas in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, authorities said Monday.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey called for the increased checks after President Barack Obama's announcement of the terror chief's death late Sunday night. The heightened security will be in effect for the near future, said Lt. Raymond Evers, a department spokesman.

The department is heightening security at Philadelphia International Airport, major depots of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, City Hall, historic sites, sporting events and other areas that could potentially be a target, Evers said.

"This is definitely a heightened alert due to the fact that Bin Laden was taken out," Evers said, adding that the increased checks started shortly before 1 a.m.

Besides the regular checks at mosques and synagogues, Evers said, officers are contacting religious leaders in their areas to make sure they don't have any concerns to report.

A local American-Islamic group reported no major disturbances by late morning Monday.

"It seems like just a good day for Americans in general," Moein Khawaja, civil rights director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We're actually feeling pretty good about everything."

At the other end of the state, Pittsburgh police say they're asking citizens to remain alert and report suspicious activity.

In Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania State Police said in a statement that they "remain vigilant" and continue to work with local, state and federal authorities in the wake of bin Laden's death. Lt. Myra Taylor, a state police spokeswoman, declined to say whether the department had stepped up patrols.

"While members of the Pennsylvania State Police share in the relief felt by all Americans since the capture and death of (bin Laden), we remain vigilant in our efforts to rid the Commonwealth and our country of any credible threat to our freedom and our quality of life," Taylor said in the statement. "We are not aware of any additional threat to the Commonwealth at this time."