KOMO News: Law enforcement agencies prepare for potential unrest after Nov. 3 election

From KOMO News, Law enforcement agencies prepare for potential unrest after Nov. 3 election

One week before the hotly contested presidential election that has fanned emotions on both sides, law enforcement agencies across the region are preparing for the possibility of civil unrest erupting in Washington state..

“We are making preparations and hoping for the best (but are) concerned about widespread civil unrest,” said Bellevue Police Department Chief Steve Mylett.

Some law enforcement agencies that are tracking extremist activity say they are seeing increased chatter among right-wing extremist groups.

“A lot of the chatter we’ve picked up over the last few weeks has been more directed at post-election civil unrest,” said Devin Burghart, executive director for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, who has been monitoring elections professionally since 1993. “Talk of an impending civil war, depending on the election results and the taking back of America have certainly dominated those far-right corners.”

Burghart said his team has been monitoring the rhetoric at recent large gathering, on social media, walkie talkie apps and on HAM radios.

“This is the highest level of intensity we’ve seen in that entire time, by far,” Burkhart said, who added that the chatter so far has not amounted to any real threats in the Pacific Northwest.

Burghart believes the failed plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has deterred other extremist activity.

A spokesperson for the Seattle Police Department said the agency is ensuring they’re fully staffed around the November election date.

“The Seattle Police Department has limited time-off for personnel around November 3rd to ensure the department is able to adequately provide public safety services at any events, gatherings or demonstrations related to the election,” said police Sgt. Randy Huserik in a written statement Monday.

He also pointed to the readiness of the Community Response Group, a recently launched team, should an unplanned, large-scale event occur in the aftermath of the vote.

The Washington National Guard is also training crews in preparation for potential deployment.

“The Washington National Guard is merely taking proactive steps to ensure our men and women are properly trained and ready should local jurisdictions or law enforcement agencies need us,” said Karina Shagren, spokesperson for the Guard.

Shagren said crews are receiving the same training they received ahead of supporting local law enforcement agencies in Seattle and Bellevue during summer protests.

Officials in the FBI’s Seattle office said they are not aware of any legitimate plans for violence or unrest before, on or immediately after election day.

“We don’t have any specific credible threats here in Seattle,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge. Abass Golfrey.

He said the office is planning on establishing a local command post ahead of the election and working with other local agencies to ensure national security through the election.

“Yes, there is heightened stakes, and within the FBI office here we’ve noticed that,” Golfrey said. “But this is what we do.”

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee said his administration does have plans in place should unrest follow the election, but he did not say if those plans included deployment of the Washington National Guard.

“I’m very hopeful the margins of the election will be large enough that there is not a reason for controversy,” he said. “That would be a great blessing for the United States.”