The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) commissioner reportedly told all uniformed officers to prepare themselves to respond to protests leading up to and following November’s presidential election, according to an internal memo obtained by CNN.
CNN reported that Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote in the letter to officers that they could be deployed to protests as early as Oct. 25.
Shea added that the Nov. 3 contest is "one of the most highly contested presidential elections in the modern era," and that a winner may not be decided for several weeks.
"Accordingly, we should anticipate and prepare for protests growing in size, frequency, and intensity leading up to the election and likely into the year 2021,” the commissioner wrote.
During an interview on NY1 Tuesday morning, Shea said "it would be nice if we had an uneventful fall season, but this is 2020, so I think the lesson here is to prepare for the worst and to be ready."
"It's really all hands on deck across the NYPD and this is really about, listen, everyone is well aware of the climate right now in this country and certainly here in the city in the election coming up, and it's our job to prepare for the worst and hopefully it's not needed," Shea added.
The NYPD’s primary mission remains keeping NYC safe & protecting all NYers — while continuing to build trust with the communities we serve.— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) October 13, 2020
Thanks, @AnnikaPergament, for having me on this morning. pic.twitter.com/MrhHw30G1h
The memo comes as federal authorities have continued to hold discussions with New York sheriffs and local police on how to respond to unrest should there be disputes and conflicts over the general election’s results.
"The whole idea behind the training is to separate those people that are there to cause chaos, as opposed to the real reason that the protests began in the first place," said Deputy Chief Samuel Wright, who is leading the initiative, according to CNN.
President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE himself has questioned the integrity of the upcoming election, repeatedly making claims without evidence that mail-in voting is riddled with cases of fraud.
In the first presidential debate late last month, the president called on his supporters to go to polling stations on Election Day to "watch very carefully" and make sure ballots aren’t “manipulated.”
“I hope it’s going to be a fair election, and if it’s a fair election, I am 100 percent on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” Trump added.
Following months of protests following the police killings of George Floyd and other Black individuals, every New York uniformed officer is now being required to take a two-day training course on tactical measures and the psychology of protests in preparation for further demonstrations by groups ranging from white supremacists to left-wing anarchists.
According to CNN, this training began in July and marks the first such training to be held by the NYPD in decades.
A July report from New York Attorney General Letitia James found that more than 2,000 demonstrators had been arrested during the summer’s ongoing protests.
The police department faced scrutiny after footage went viral on social media in July showing plainclothes NYPD officers arresting a protestor and putting her into an unmarked van.
Video showed tensions rising between officers and people in the streets, with the officers appearing to wrestle the protester to the pavement as they carried out the arrest.
In a series of tweets, the NYPD confirmed that its officers conducted the arrest. The department said that the individual taken into custody was wanted for allegedly damaging police cameras during five separate incidents around City Hall Park.
The police also claimed that “arresting officers were assaulted with rocks & bottles” while detaining the person.
--Updated at 2:25 p.m.