Just in case there's trouble
Cheney, Eastern Washington University prepare for possible election-day protests
Last updated 11/3/2020 at 9:25pm
CHENEY – Sometimes the key to successful planning is hoping for the best, but anticipating the worst.
Cheney and Eastern Washington University officials are following that guidance when it comes to tomorrow’s election – hoping for a quiet night despite the results but planning for possible protests should people wish to express their feelings, good or bad.
Cheney Police Chief John Hensley said his department is in daily contact with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, who is listening to “chatter” by following social media pages of known groups that might quickly put together possible protests. EWU police are doing the same, and so far, nothing has materialized.
“Nevertheless, we’ll staff with extra personnel in the event something does happen,” Hensley said.
Cheney will bring on two additional patrol officers on Tuesday evening, along with another sergeant and captain. Hensley said he also plans to be present.
Hensley said most protests that have occurred in Cheney have been peaceful. As an example, he pointed to a march this past spring by university students in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which paraded through central and west Cheney without any disturbances – including counter-protestors.
“They marched in a constitutional manner and were peaceful,” Hensley added.
City Administrator Mark Schuller also pointed to intelligence indicating nothing is being planned, but added they would be ready for any spontaneous and “emotional response” generated by the outcome of the election.
“We have reached out to other local law enforcement agencies asking for their assistance should we need them,” Schuller said. “We support the public’s right to peacefully assemble and will do everything in our power to deescalate any situation to avoid losses to property or injuries to those at the event.”
Eastern Washington University Police Chief Jay Day said they have been in constant communication not only with Cheney police but also the Sheriff's Office, specifically "Rig 9" -- an intelligence gathering unit. Day said the university's plan wasn't to bring on additional officers but to adjust schedules to ensure good staffing.
"We're just shifting guys to make sure we have adequate coverage," he said.
Other parts of the country are making preparations of a more intense nature, with law enforcement being put on alert. In some areas, property owners are boarding up shop doors and windows in anticipation of possible violence and looting.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: This story has been updated at 5:50 p.m. to incorporate comments from Eastern Washington University police.