After an unpredictable 2020, Long Beach police brace for possible Election Day unrest

Long Beach police are prepping to deploy extra officers on Election Day this year because of the possibility of civil unrest, according to the department.

Although police didn’t cite any specific threat, they’re taking the unusual step due to a combination of Halloween weekend, a contentious election and months of recent protests against police brutality creating the potential for turmoil, according to LBPD spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria.

“It’s not what we’ve done in the past, but 2020 is so different,” Chavarria said.

Chavarria said the department hasn’t yet finalized any deployment models, but they plan to have extra officers available several days before and after Nov. 3 as well.

Chavarria said she didn’t have any specific information she could share about potential problems around Election Day, but she noted “that could change within hours.”

Because of how much tension there is around the election this year, Councilman Daryl Supernaw asked the police department to report on their preparations during a recent meeting of the council’s public safety committee.

“Lot’s of things could happen before or during or after,” Supernaw said.

Council members said they’d been hearing from residents who are worried about possible voter intimidation before and on Election Day and civil unrest in the weeks following. Many Long Beach residents also fear another night like May 31, when violence and looting overtook the city as police focused their efforts on what had been a largely peaceful protest, Councilwoman Suzie Price said.

“We’ve been getting a lot of concerns from residents regarding what they’re hearing,” Price said. “Everyone’s wanting to make sure we don’t see the same debacle.”

Since May 31, Long Beach has seen scores of peaceful protests, but none on the scale of the first demonstration, which drew thousands of people to the city.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the nation are also preparing for possible unrest, with the FBI setting up command centers and partnering with local agencies. The LAPD has notified officers that they may have to cancel vacations, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The LBPD said it is also working with city election officials to ensure officers know the local and state laws that govern elections and rules about polling places.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. She started at the Post in 2018 as a breaking news reporter. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.