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Cleveland Police is Bracing for Possible Unrest Election Day, and After

Cleveland Police
Tony Dejak
Associated Press
Cleveland police keep watch during a rally for black lives in Cleveland June 2.

Cleveland officials and police are “prepared to handle whatever it is that occurs” Tuesday and beyond, Mayor Frank Jackson said Monday, as cities across the country prepare for Election Day and any disturbances that may come with it.

The City of Cleveland Division of Police has already started what was called its “operational period” for the election and will be activating the emergency operations center to be able to react quickly to any safety issues around the election Tuesday.

Public Safety Director Karrie Howard said those steps will ensure Cleveland police can communicate with local, state and federal partners, if there's any unrest and as officers are patrolling the city.

"We'll be working closely with the folks at the board of Elections and [other] polling locations to ensure that people are able to vote and vote safely,” Howard said during a Monday briefing on the city's Facebook page.

Police Chief Calvin Williams said time off has been canceled for Tuesday's afternoon and evening shifts, which he called the major operation period for officers.

"As this thing goes, throughout Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, we'll reassess what the division of police and the department of public safety needs to do to keep our polls safe,” Williams said.

Cleveland’s law enforcement overlaid its plan with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, Williams said.

"Folks can be assured that if things are happening out there, our officers will respond and most likely will already be there,” he said.

In many other U.S. cities, including Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., store owners are on edge and boarding up storefronts ahead of the election, after break-ins during the summer during the nationwide wave of civil unrest, including in Downtown Cleveland in May, following the police killing of George Floyd.

Cleveland police has not been notified of any issues during early voting, Williams said, noting he dropped off his absentee ballot at East 30th Street Monday.

“The process flowed pretty well,” he said. “There were a lot of folks in line … There were no issues that I could see or that have been reported to me so far.”

Both Williams and Howard urged a “see something, say something” approach for citizens, and if something looks out of place Election Day or in the days following, people should call the police communications center non-emergency number at 216-621-1234.
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