MIAMI – The 2020 Presidential Election is a very divisive one, and the rhetoric is only intensifying as Election Day gets closer.
On Monday, Miami’s Chief of Police held a news conference to talk about extra precinct patrols to make sure everyone can safely exercise their right to vote.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said while there are no credible threats, authorities do know there are passionate perspectives about this election and in fact, the FBI has been meeting with police chief’s across Miami-Dade County as a precaution.
“The level of anxiety we are seeing from residents and business owners is really like nothing we have seen in the past,” Colina said.
Colina stood alongside Miami’s mayor and city commissioners, who conveyed a shared message.
“It’s obviously a very antagonistic election,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
“Free and safe elections it is the backbone of our democracy,” added Miami commissioner Manolo Reyes.
The pivotal election amid a pandemic is fueling engaged voters and some passionate candidate supporters but any efforts to try and disrupt polling sites will not be tolerated.
“We are going to have a robust presence of uniformed personnel out and about in the streets so everyone can see we are available,” said Colina.
The idea is to use the show of force as a form of assurance, while Colina said there are no credible threats, he knows that can change very quickly.
“We know it only takes a moment for a radical fringe group to activate enough people and commit an act to intimate,” he said.
Following remarks by President Donald Trump during the first, and so far only, presidential debate, when he told group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” a concern is that groups like the Proud Boys, who are described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, may have felt emboldened by the comment.
Colina said he had seen video of a Proud Boys member walking alongside a Joe Biden caravan event over the weekend.
Elections officials both in Miami-Dade and Broward County say security policy remains the same; law enforcement will be called if there is a problem at the polls. Additionally, a Broward spokesman added that Florida has a robust 150-foot barrier law that works well to keep agitators away from voters.
The chief took time to explain the department’s community policing philosophy that underpins stepped up uniformed patrols during early voting into election day:
“The last thing we want is people to engage each other and stop each other from exercising their rights,” Colina said. “We are going to be there to protect your right. Anybody who breaks the law will go to jail.”
A spokeswoman from the Miami-Dade County supervisor of elections said Monday that early voting polling sites have been added to the patrol routes of Miami-Dade Police to make sure no one is disrupting anybody’s ability to vote.