The New York City Police Department said Tuesday police officers will be at polling places across New York City on Election Day and as early voting begins later this week, and that it is prepared to rapidly dispatch hundreds more officers in the case of possible protests, voter intimidation or violence related to next month’s presidential election.
NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said officers will be on standby to respond to instances of election-related disturbances and will act as backup to the police officers who will be present at each of the city’s 1,201 polling locations on Election Day. Monahan said police officers are dispatched to polling sites each year, as is required by law. Officers will also be dispatched to monitor all of the city’s 88 early voting sites beginning Oct. 24.
"There will be a presence everywhere people come to vote," said Monahan, who spoke at a news briefing at police headquarters in Manhattan. "And no matter when, whether it’s on Election Day, or early, if anyone tries to intervene with peoples’ right to vote, we will take action."
Monahan said police are closely monitoring social media and other intelligence avenues, but have found no threats to the election process.
"We don’t expect anything different than what’s happened in every other presidential election we’ve monitored over the years," said Monahan. "We don’t see any threat at this point. …We see no threats or anything changing over the next couple of weeks."
Still, the chief pointed to the heated campaign rhetoric and said the department simply wants to be prepared should trouble arise in the lead-up to the election or afterward. Monahan said the department has retrained officers on crowd control and reviewed past procedures to prepare. "It is no secret that this election is more contentious than in years past," he said.
Monahan was not specific, but President Donald Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the sanctity of the election process, saying he would only lose by widespread fraud. And Trump has refused to say whether he would participate in a peaceful transfer of power if bested by former Vice President Joe Biden.
John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said while the department has uncovered "no specific credible threat" it is monitoring "things that have occurred in other states."
"We’re aware of contentious relations and we are relying on two things: one, from the extreme left to the extreme right, both seem to agree that everybody needs to vote, so we’re hoping that actually helps us," said Miller. "And two, if something happens that we have the adequate resources and the speedy response to deal with it quickly."
Monahan said no organized groups have requested permits to demonstrate in relation to the election. Of the 1,201 polling places on Election Day, 708 are public schools, Monahan said. This year, the city has three new polling sites — Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center and Barclays.
Asked how police officers could perform as neutral arbiters at polling places when the New York City Police Benevolent Association endorsed Trump for president, Monahan said officers keep their opinions to themselves while on the job.
"When we put on this uniform, we are apolitical," Monahan said.