Law enforcement agencies and National Guard units are on alert nationwide as state and local governments prepare for post-election unrest that could lead to rioting.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said staffing had been boosted and staggered, and the department will have significant numbers of officers on duty well into election night and beyond, both to facilitate peaceful protests and to watch out for intimidation, violence or destruction.
Moore said nearly every uniformed officer would work a 12-hour shift on election day, and officers will have a visible presence across the city all week. He pledged immediate action to restore order if disturbances were to unfold, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said it would exercise a “zero tolerance” policy this week as many businesses in the city prepare for the possibility of unrest after the election, Fox News reports.
Bill Melugin, an investigative reporter for Fox Los Angeles, tweeted that deputies are already working 12-hour patrols and are operating three mobile field stations. There will be Special Response Teams prepared to deploy across the city including in downtown Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has deployed Illinois National Guard troops to Chicago to prepare for potential election-related civil unrest.
Pritzker was asked about the action during his daily briefing in Chicago on the coronavirus pandemic. He downplayed the move and noted the Guard similarly reported to Chicago earlier this year in case of violence during protests, the Associated Press reports.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference the NYPD does not expect any major incidents and has not yet come across any social media intelligence to indicate a threat. He said police officers have been at every polling station in the city since before 6 a.m.
“The NYPD, as always, will facilitate any possible peaceful protest,” Monahan told reporters outside police headquarters. “But my message to anyone who wants to cause violence and destruction is, ‘Don’t even try it. We know who you are and you will be arrested.’”
The NYPD confirmed to Fox News that the department has “contingency plans in place to freeze areas of Manhattan should wide scale looting occur,” meaning the department would establish car and pedestrian-free zones.
Gov. Kate Brown has ordered that the state police and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office maintain order in Portland. The National Guard is on standby.
The maneuver, with Portland police reporting to the unified command, allows state police and sheriff deputies to bypass Mayor Ted Wheeler’s directive banning Portland police from using tear gas during protests. It also allows state police to coordinate directly with federal law enforcement on any crowd control measures, Oregon Live reports.
The city of Seattle released its plan ahead of Election Day, saying law enforcement agencies have been preparing contingency plans, although there’s no sign they’ll need to use them.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Seattle field office is doing the same, King 5 reports.
"Every office around the country has a command post set up. Ours is already staffed, just making sure the election goes off without any hitches,” said FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd.
Federal law enforcement agencies are bracing for possible unrest.
The National Security Integration Center, a key national security and counterterrorism component within Immigration and Customs Enforcement, warned in an internal email late last week about planned protests inside the Capital Beltway, according to text of the email obtained by The Hill.
“From November 4-7, Civil Unrest is planned throughout Downtown Washington DC. LE Intelligence Agencies have monitored several messages on protesters’ social media sites stating, ‘If you want to throw down come to Washington DC on November 4th,’” reads one of the bullets in the email, the Hill reports.
In a sign authorities are preparing for the worst, a "non-scalable" fence has been erected around the White House ahead of Election Day to create a buffer should protests turn violent. And businesses in D.C. and across various U.S. cities are boarding up their windows to help protect storefronts from the risk of looters and vandalism.