Tension surrounding this election is palpable. Police realize that, so they’re trying their best to lower the anxiety level among voters.
The chief of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department showed us on Monday their real-time crime center, a room full of screens on which officers can see what dozens of surveillance cameras around the city are seeing, in an effort to sow confidence with the public.
“Voters should be completely confident that we’re gonna protect their right to vote, we are not gonna allow any intimidation, any suppression of anybody’s vote regardless of who they’re voting for,” said Chief Karen Dietrich, who said her department is cooperating with other law enforcement agencies in this effort.
The Department of Justice, for example, is sending monitors to Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“So go out and vote, and we’re gonna make sure that we do our job to keep you safe and everything’s gonna be fine,” said Chief Jorge Colina of the Miami Police Department.
Colina said early voting has been a smashing success, with no instances of voter intimidation to speak of in South Florida. However, with the president saying repeatedly that if he loses, the election is “rigged,” casting doubt on the legitimacy of the democratic process, police know that people are worried about violence after Election Day caused by people who don’t accept the results of the election, whatever the results may be.
An example of the type of fault lines which have developed can be found in a Facebook post made by Plantation resident Aston Bright.
It was simple an appeal for everyone to be civil and publicly congratulate whichever candidate wins.
“But unfortunately things, in ironic fashion, got a little bit nasty and I ended up having to delete the post,” Bright said.
So what does that say about the climate of our country right now?
“It’s very foreboding in the sense that everyone is picking their own sides and they’re kind of dug in but I’m very hopeful because I think that the vocal minority does not represent everyone,” Bright said.
At a news conference Monday, Democratic politicians said voters should not fear intimidation at the polls while the mayor of Broward County said the public should not worry about unrest after Election Day.
“The sheriff’s office is also prepared to deal with any kind of issues that arise post-election to insure we have peace and tranquility in Broward County, and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m not afraid of what happens because Americans are not gonna allow for nonsense,” said mayor Dale Holness.
“I have the utmost confidence in law enforcement’s ability to do their job and the American peoples’ devotion to democracy and making sure they’re not gonna let anyone stand in the way of them casting their votes,” said U.S. Representative Ted Deutch, (D) Parkland.
Bright said everyone, regardless of who they support for president, wants the economy to come back and COVID-19 defeated.
“There is some extremists out there who might cause some problems but I think overall, Americans, we’re all in this together and I think it’s very important for us to want to see the country thrive,” Bright said.
Speaking of the economy, Chief Dietrich said there’s no need for businesses in her city to board up. She’s confident her officers can and will protect them in the days ahead as votes are still counted in other states.