Rhode Island State Police prepared for civil unrest following Election Day
NORTH SCITUATE, R.I. (WLNE) – Rhode Island State Police and other officials are gearing up for Election Day in one of the most contentious races in our nation’s history.
“Everything from cyber security to civil unrest to any type of security issues that we have or come across,” Lt. Col. Kevin Barry with Rhode Island State Police said.
Lt. Col. Barry says state police are working with local and federal agents to identify any threats there might be. They’ll gather at the state emergency management agency, which is opening its Cranston Command Center in preparation for Election Day.
“Part of the EMA is all the stakeholders from law enforcement, everybody that is part of National Guard, different entities and state governments all have a hand in that,” Lt. Col. Barry said. “So, that’s the communication hub and that’s where everything goes in and everything goes out.”
One of the things they’ll monitor is civil unrest following the results.
“We understand that this election is contentious and that we’re preparing as we have been throughout the summer, we’ve seen a lot of civil unrest and protests,” Lt. Col. Barry said.
Protests rocked the nation this summer following the death of George Floyd. While many remained peaceful, some turned violent.
Here in Providence, back in June, protestors set a police SUV on fire, shops were looted and dozens were arrested.
Just over a week ago, protests sparked after the officer-involved moped crash that left Jhamal Gonsalves in a coma. Protestors set off fireworks and threw bottles and bricks at officers.
Lt. Col. Barry says they support protests as long as they remain peaceful.
“We are hoping for the best, but we’re prepared if it doesn’t go well,” Lt. Col. Barry said.
State Police are also on the lookout for tampering of ballot boxes. All 39 across the state are under video surveillance and troopers are escorting postal trucks in Providence to the Board of Elections.
“You can just look at Boston where there was an individual arrested for lighting a fire to one of the ballot boxes,” Lt. Col. Barry said. “So, that could be state or federal charges.”
Security across the state will ramp up this weekend going into next week. On Election Day, troopers and police officers will monitor polling places across Rhode Island.