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Local police departments prepare for election day

Police say they will be patrolling the polling locations, but they will not have a permanent presence at the polls.
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 4:12 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) — Local police departments said they do typically patrol polling locations each year, but with a more contentious election, they said they’re taking extra precautions.

“We have a quick reaction team who is ready and on standby, in case one of the polling captains calls us with a problem,” Sgt. Frederick Smith, with the Waynesboro Police Department, said.

While it is not against the law for police officers to be stationed at polling places in Virginia, Sgt. Smith said WPD will be sticking to patrols.

“Some citizens feel comfortable with seeing law enforcement, some citizens get nervous around law enforcement, so we’re just going to have a balanced approach. We’re there if anybody needs us,” Sgt. Smith said.

The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office said they will also be doing extra patrols on election day, but they will stopping by to visit the polls.

“Make sure that we’re seen. Not as an intimidation factor, but just letting the public know that it is a safe place to be,” Lt. Aaron Leveck with the sheriff’s office said.

Police said they do train for election day by staying up to date on election laws and knowing each polling location.

“If there was some kind of civil unrest that surfaced on election day, then we do have specific training that we’ve undergone for that,” Lt. Leveck said.

Police don’t expect any violence or issues to occur on election day, but they are staying prepared and monitoring in case something raises concern.

“We’re paying strict attention to any threats that may be post or polling place, and we have pretty good intel and we know where to watch,” Sgt. Smith said.

Police encourage everyone to get out and vote they haven’t already.

“We’re going to have a quick reaction team in place. We’re not going to tolerate any voter intimidation. We will handle any issues that arise. You’re going to be safe. Please come out. Cast your vote,” Sgt. Smith said.

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