FBI asks local police for help reporting threats amid potential for political violence

MIAMI – In the wake of President Donald Trump’s supporters’ U.S. Capitol siege on Jan. 6, security has increased at other government buildings across the country.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated the Jan. 20th inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as a national special security event starting on Wednesday.

FBI Director Christopher Wray asked law enforcement officials to share intelligence about threats from extremists in their area with the FBI.

“We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter ... about a number of events surrounding the inauguration,” Wray told Vice President Mike Pence during a briefing on Thursday with Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Frank Fernandez, a consultant on police practices for the U.S. Department of Justice, who monitored Wray’s national conference call on Wednesday said the FBI is focusing on coordination nationwide and on making sure that everyone in law enforcement is on the same page.

Fernandez, who has law enforcement experience in Miami, Hollywood, and Coral Gables, said local police departments need to have a clear engagement policy paired with leadership oversight.

The FBI is also considering inside threats. On Wednesday, two police officers from Virginia were charged in federal court in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

“We must all know there are consequences to criminal agitation,” Fernandez said, adding “civility is the upmost importance here.”

Spokespersons for the Miami-Dade and Miami police departments said they have investigators monitoring social media for potential security threats. Fernandez had a suggestion for the public and for the law enforcement community.

“Be measured on your responses on the public side, but I also have an equal response to law enforcement, be measured on your response as well, because any independent action could lead to a regrettable moment in history,” Fernandez said.

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About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.