On Nov. 3, people across the nation will cast their presidential votes in what many consider one of the most important elections in decades. Fevered opinions on both sides of the divide have raised the political thermometer to a boiling point.
Wednesday Journal and the Forest Park Review reached out to local police departments to see what extra precautions, if any, had been put into place in anticipation of the elections.
Forest Park Police Chief Tom Aftanas said he doesn’t anticipate any major issues and generally the FPPD doesn’t have extra officers assigned on election day. This year, however, precautionary measures have been stepped up slightly, with the addition of one officer during election hours.
“Just as an extra precaution we will have one extra officer for the entire time the polls are open. The extra officer will patrol and respond to any calls for service at the local polling places,” Aftanas said. “As I said I am not concerned but some people are very vocal on who they support and who they do not support.
“We want to remain visible so tempers do not flare. Preventing a verbal argument from escalating is a priority.”
He added that with so many people voting early, there may be fewer people at the polls on election day itself. And he’s “optimistic that our voters will follow the rules.” Generally, he said, simple reminders about electioneering too close to polling place doors usually solves the issue. But if complaints are higher than usual, the FPPD “will hold additional officers over for the evening hours.”
River Forest’s Chief James O’Shea, like Aftanas, said he had no specific concerns related to the elections.
“Outside of the potential for long lines at some of the polling places, we have no other current concerns outside of the ongoing social distancing and mask wearing directives being voluntarily adhered to already in the village,” O’Shea said.
Still, the River Forest Police Department is prepared.
“We have Election Day and post-election day plans, and ongoing monitoring of any related intelligence information,” O’Shea said. He added, “We continue to communicate with our local and regional law enforcement partners to help ensure a safe election night.”
Oak Park’s Chief LaDon Reynolds said in an email, “We have no intelligence information to suggest any threats, issues or concerns. Nevertheless, we have a plan in place and resources available for contingencies.”
Reynolds did not want to discuss details, however. In a previous email, he said the department has an “established protocol in place to address significant community events.” He added: “As a matter of procedure, for the safety of our residents and staff, we do not publicize our specific preparations.”