Police chief: ‘We hope for peace and civility’Vallejo Times Herald, By Richard Freedman, October 29, 2020
The City of Vallejo, in collaboration with the Vallejo police and fire departments, will open their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as a precautionary measure starting Monday.
This action is being taken in preparation for potential civil unrest directly associated with the Nov. 3 election, according to a news release issued Wednesday.
“While there is no immediate threat of unrest, nor do we have reason to believe there will be a threat in the City of Vallejo or surrounding areas, the City must be prepared to respond to any emergency appropriately. The type of emergency will determine the appropriate response to any crisis,” said communications and public information Christina Lee in the statement.
The Vallejo Fire Department will increase its staff by an extra battalion chief and an additional fire engine to assist with increased call volume if necessary during the EOC activation. The police department will continue to have its mobile field force (MFF) on standby, prepared to mobilize in the event of social or civil unrest to help calm and disperse crowds, Lee said.
Though “the City recognizes and respects our citizens’ First Amendment Rights to free speech … we ask that anyone who intends to exercise these rights remain mindful that COVID-19 remains a threat, especially as we are entering the cold and flu season, which could place those with a compromised immune system at an increased risk for infection,” Lee said, urging citizens to “continue to wear a mask, especially when gathering where social distancing can be difficult.”
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams issued a statement Thursday afternoon, stating that “while we hope for peace and civility after the elections; hope is not a strategy, and failure to prepare is preparing to fail. We are planning to have a more visible uniformed presence throughout the elections and the following days. With our Emergency Operations Center activated, we will work collaboratively with all of our city departments, council members, and county partners to protect and serve our Vallejo community.”
Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said it would be irresponsible to not be ready.
“We want to be prepared just in case there’s going to be civil unrest,” he said late Wednesday. “The extreme right and the extreme left have been saying on social media that they are going to protest the election. We, as a city, need to be prepared for that. We have been the victims of looting and civil unrest in the past and we need to be ready just in case something like that should occur.”
Sampayan said he “absolutely” expects Vallejo agencies to be ready if they are called as mutual aid to surrounding communities.
“I’m confident our police and fire are well prepared for whatever occurs after the election,” Sampayan said.
“While we don’t anticipate any issues in our community, we are prepared to have extra staffing available if needed. We are also working cooperatively with other area agencies for any mutual call needs,” Widjojo said.
There is “no special preparations at this time” by the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, spokesman Henry Wofford said. “Everything is normal.”