The deployment of officers of any rank could begin on October 25, the memo said, which cited the possibility of protests before and after election day. Deputy inspectors and captains could be sent to local commandos, Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Shea described the November 3rd election as “one of the most competitive presidential elections of modern times,” noting that a winner may take several weeks to be determined.
“Accordingly, we should anticipate and prepare protests, the size, frequency and intensity of which will increase by the time of the elections and probably by 2021.”
The division has been training on election rioting as federal law enforcement agencies have been holding talks with sheriffs and local police in recent months, who are tasked with keeping order in the event of controversial results.
“The whole idea behind the training is to separate the people who are supposed to cause chaos, as opposed to the real reason the protests started in the first place,” said deputy chief Samuel Wright, who leads the initiative.
Concerns include armed extremists who may try to stop or disrupt the vote count.
In the months of protests following George Floyd’s death by Minneapolis police in late May, groups ranging from right-wing activists and white supremacists to antifa and anarchists were active.
For the first time in decades, every uniformed officer in New York will take a two-day course that looks at tactical measures and the psychology behind protests. Training began in July shortly after the division responded to massive demonstrations after Floyd was killed.
Protesters have criticized the New York police’s handling of the demonstrations.
A preliminary report by New York Attorney General Letitia James about the handling of protests over the summer said 2,000 people were arrested. The July report also included a review of the social media video showing a NYPD vehicle being accelerated by a crowd of protesters.
NYPD officials said they learned lessons from some interactions over the summer months to improve training.