PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Local law enforcement officials are training for the potential of unrest during Election week.
Election Day is two weeks away, but the presidential victor may not be determined until days later. In this highly contentious political season, that presents a problem for those in charge of keeping order.
“Somebody may end up winning one day and end up losing. So we expect that there might be a lot of problems,” said Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen.
For weeks now, the sheriff’s office and both the city and county police have been training and preparing for unrest and disorder not just on Election Day but throughout the week.
According to a Pittsburgh Bureau of Police memo obtained by KDKA, it’ll be all hands on deck for the entire week, requiring massive overtime in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. All police officers will be required to work 12-hour shifts from Monday through Sunday.
The 40-hour work rule is waived and pass days are canceled, as are comp days and single vacation days.
“It’s no secret, four years ago we planed. Fortunately, there was very little, if any, violence,” said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.
Police agencies have been conferencing throughout the region to respond in unison to contain any hint of violence.
“All of those entities are working together to have a plan in place if there are any problems on Election Day or any time after,” Hissrich said.
The sheriff deputies will be assigned to the polls, where there is special concern about voters’ right to open carry firearms — something that may make other voters uneasy. Sheriff Mullen says his deputies must be prepared for these or other flare-ups.
“It’s unprecedented. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s never been like this before. It’s history in the making,” he said.
If a voter observes a problem at the polls, the county will be establishing a hotline number to the judge of elections, who can dispatch a sheriff deputy to the scene. The county should be posting that number some time next week.