NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton on Sunday downplayed reports that a gang with historical ties to the Black Panther movement may be planning to gun down an on-duty police officer.

According to a report in the Staten Island Advance, a warning was issued to some police that 10 members of the Black Guerrilla Family — a militant group active in the Maryland prison system — has begun preparing to shoot a cop. The report cited an NYPD source.

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Also, a letter that appears to include the signature of Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, has been circulating, saying, according to sources speaking to the Advance: “I have just received information of a credible threat to SHOOT an on duty police officer. It appears this is an organized action…. Please WEAR your VEST and carry your firearm off-duty along with additional magazines.”

The warnings come days after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, who died shortly after being placed in an apparent chokehold by the cop in July. The grand jury decision has sparked protests nationwide.

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But Bratton said Sunday the report about the threat is “very overblown, as best as we can tell.”

“I’m very familiar with the gang in question, based out of Baltimore,” Bratton told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “This is based on a Nov. 24 phone call that was made by somebody allegedly from that gang.

“We always investigate these things very thoroughly, and we always will err certainly on the side of officer safety, always encouraging our officers to be especially aware of it,” he added. “There’s no specificity of that particular threat directed against this department at this time.”

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