Police limit days off, switch to 12-hour shifts in lead-up to Election Day

Starting this weekend, Long Beach police officers will be working 12-hour shifts and the department will be limiting days off in case of possible turmoil during the week of the election.

The LBPD will take the precautions starting Saturday as part of a level-two tactical alert, which is one step below its highest readiness level, a stage-three tactical alert, according to LBPD Administrator Karen Owens.

Police say they’re taking these steps because of the potential for demonstrations, unrest or other emergencies around Election Day.

“Our goal is to calm people, to reassure people,” Owens said.

The department has been developing plans for the days around the election for weeks now, and officials will continue to re-evaluate staffing levels as the election unfolds.

Currently, there’s no specific planned protest or anticipated problems, but, “People don’t always tell us if they’re coming to our city,” Owens said during a media briefing on Thursday.

Owens said the Police Department has also been reaching out to local businesses, reminding them to have an emergency plan in place whether it’s for civil unrest or an earthquake. Many business owners were upset with the department after widespread looting in the wake of a massive protest against police brutality on May 31.

During that event, Long Beach ended up issuing a curfew and police went to maximum staffing, something authorities hope to avoid.

“At this point there’s no indication that that’s going to be necessary,” Owens said about the possibility of a curfew on Election Day.

Police have also briefed officers on election laws, Owens said. Officers won’t be stationed at polling places or ballot drop-boxes, but Owens encouraged residents to report any voter intimidation or other problems to poll workers should they arise.

“If there’s a situation requiring law enforcement intervention, we will be available to respond,” she said.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.