No Known Local Threats, but Washtenaw Police Agencies Guard Against Extremist Violence
Police in Saline are among peers Washtenaw County and around the country on high alert for potential violence after last week's attack on the Capitol and with President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration nearing.
According to the New York Times, the FBI alerted police chiefs across the country to be on high alert for extremist activity and to share intelligence about threats. On Thursday, Washtenaw County law enforcement leaders shared a statement about community safety leading up to and after the inauguration. According to the statement, local law enforcement have not received information about imminent threats. Police released a similar statement about security before the November general election.
Saline Police Chief Jerrod Hart, reached by phone, reiterated there is no known threat.
"There's no information we're aware of that says our community is being targeted in any way," Hart said. "But while we may not feel it here in Saline, there is a lot of concern for the peaceful transition of power."
On Jan. 11, news media reported information from a leaked FBI bulletin suggested law there would be armed protests in 50 state capitols and in Washington DC, Jan. 17-20.
FBI Director Wray brief Vice President Mike Pence on the threats today.
Chief Hart said there is heightened awareness among local law enforcement officers.
"We are asking city staff to have heightened awareness over the next few days, and that if someone sees something, to report it," Hart said.
But the big takeaway from the message released Thursday is that police are working together.
"Since Sept. 11 (the terrorist attacks in 2001), law enforcement have been working together and sharing information to keep communities safe. We have mechanisms in place to communicate information to state and federal officers if we learn of safety concerns or about plans to harm citizens or infrastructure," Hart said.
Hart said police want to play a leadership role in a return to civility - an idea addressed in the news release distributed by the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office.
"Finally, we recognize that we have some difficult days ahead of us. However, we also see this as an opportunity to reimagine our relationship and interactions with each other, even those with differing opinions. We ask each of you to help us set the example as to the appropriate way to meet the challenge, by remaining calm and courteous to each other. While it is okay to disagree, we believe that we are stronger as a community when we focus on commonalities and the things that bring us together. Understanding and respecting one another will serve to maintain peace and create public safety," the message states.
The message asks for the following from the community:
- Business leaders should ensure that you review your safety and emergency response procedures for all staff that are providing onsite services (e.g., knowledge of emergency egress locations, response to suspicious packages, reporting of threatening behavior/communications, etc.).
- Everyone should maintain a level of situational awareness and if you believe that your personal safety or the safety of others is compromised by the actions of others please notify your local law enforcement agency by dialing 911.