WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Police departments across the United States are beefing up plans to prepare for possible Election Day unrest after the historic presidential contest.
A stronger police presence will be necessary after voting ends with either the first black president -- Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama -- or the first female vice president -- Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- being elected, some police officials told The Hill.
Oakland, Calif., police plan to deploy extra traffic officers and riot-control units, as well as have SWAT teams on standby, the Washington political publication said Wednesday.
"Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes," said Oakland Police Department spokesman Jeff Thomason.
Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand the need for maintaining the peace, but warned that an excessive police presence could intimidate voters.
Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, said a predicted record voter turnout could tax polling places and raise tensions.
"What are local election officials doing to prepare for what people think will be record turnout at the polls?" Shelton asked, adding that police must maintain order at polling stations without frightening voters.