How law enforcement is preparing for Election Day security in Houston

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Law enforcement, troops prepare for possible Election Day unrest
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Police chief Art Acevedo says all hands are on deck as authorities prepare for possible civil unrest due to the election.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Election Day, we're taking a closer look at election safety concerns in southeast Texas.

National Guard troops have been deployed to the area for hurricanes and other natural disasters in the past, but now they're here for another reason.

Troops are positioned in some parts of the state in case there's unrest or violence on Election Day, but voting rights advocates fear their presence could intimidate voters.

"The governor has made clear he's not going to be sending the troops to polling locations," Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo told voters.

Instead, the troops will be on stand-by elsewhere, ready if they're needed.

RELATED: A week before the election, Texas National Guard prepares to deploy troops to cities

"We are going to have all hands on deck," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said of law enforcement strategy. "We are going to have high visibility."

Houston police plan to be out in high numbers. Acevedo says he believes people view HPD as protectors of their rights at the polls, but acknowledges that was not always the case.

"We're fortunate they see us not as an arm of oppression that is going to try to suppress the vote, which is not what law-enforcement has done in the past history of this country," Acevedo said.

With all of the uncertainty and animosity surrounding the election, fear of voter intimidation and even civil unrest is high.

Some cities across the country have boarded up just in case.

Hidalgo says she's planning for all contingencies, but doesn't think the worst will happen here.

SEE ALSO: Experts warn voters to prepare for Election days, not just Election Day

"Right now, the focus needs to be, 'Go vote.' I don't want to create the impression that we are expecting any kind of concerns because I don't want people to feel discouraged," Hidalgo said.

"I hope people will exercise the greatest degree of wisdom and courage," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Turner echoed Hidalgo's sentiment, saying even if voters are anxious, they shouldn't let that fear silence them.

"Don't vote for yesterday, vote for tomorrow," Turner told voters.

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