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This is how police are preparing for possible election unrest in L.A.

Workmen on ladders erect a plywood wall at a downtown L.A. storefront.
Workmen build a plywood wall at the storefront of Planet Fitness on South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles on Monday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Law enforcement agencies across California are on heightened alert.

Officials stress they are not aware of any election-day plots to disrupt voting or create chaos, but they say they are prepared for protests and other unrest.

Here is what we know:

Election day police presence

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.

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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 County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies are also planning similar deployments.

Potential unrest

Officials have been concerned about protests or other events on election night. The victories of both the Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers sparked celebrations in the streets last month. Although most were peaceful, in downtown L.A., there were dozens of arrests and clashes between police and the public.

The protests over the police killing of George Floyd were also largely peaceful. But some used the events to rob stores and vandalize sections of downtown, the Fairfax district, Santa Monica, Long Beach and elsewhere.

Concerns about potential unrest were clear across the region. Many stores had boarded up windows in advance of Tuesday.

Beverly Hills announced it was closing its famed Rodeo Drive shopping corridor, advising store owners to board windows. The city planned to hire some 80 independent armed security officers to supplement the police force.

By Tuesday morning, the plywood protection was seen in many other areas.

Moore said police agencies across the region were sharing intelligence about potential hot spots.

Voting

There are laws in California against armed militias showing up at polling places, as well as other forms of politicking, and those laws will be enforced, Moore said. LAPD personnel have been “briefed up” on such rules.

“There’s no temperament for any intimidation,” the chief said.

There are restrictions on police staging at election sites — “that’s not the sort of country we live in,” he said — but the LAPD will be “available to protect our rights when we need them, should anybody through violence or other means try to take that away.”

Election officials say they will be looking out for any incidents of voter intimidation at polling places.

Overall, nothing suggests there will be major problems on election day, and chaos should not be assumed, officials say.

“We prepare for the worst, but we are hoping and expect generally the best,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week.


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