RPD more vigilant ahead of presidential inauguration

Miguel Octavio
Created: January 13, 2021 10:28 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Law enforcement agencies across the country are being more vigilant.

Officers are preparing for potential unrest in the days leading up to President-Elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. Among them, the Rochester Police Department. 

RPD states it has not received threats of credible violence unlike the State Capitol in St. Paul but officers are preparing for the worst-case scenario after the U.S. Capitol riot. 

"Our response was what are we doing as agency to ensure vigilance, preparedness, and to alleviate the apprehension for our own citizens?" said RPD Patrol Capt. Aaron Penning.

The department will be more visible and vigilant in the next week. While officers are not looking for anything or anyone specific, they're keeping tabs on notable areas like the Government Center, Mayo Clinic, and businesses in town. 

Political analyst Shane Baker said it's been more than a century since the U.S. has seen a threat to a peaceful transfer of power like this.

"At least in the modern sense, we haven't really worried about or thought about or put a lot of energy into some consistent, organized acts of violence connected to holding on to power," Baker said.

Baker, also a high school government instructor, said a minority of people are responsible for wreaking havoc. He tells students disagreements are ok but notes it's about, "being respectful, while being nonviolent, while being differential to people who disagree with them."

This past summer demonstrated those differences after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody prompted civil unrest nationwide.  

In Rochester, Mayor Kim Norton issued a curfew one night but protests remained peaceful in the Med City. 

"I was very pleased to see our citizens out in the community and the end results were not what we would see in law enforcement as problematic," Penning said. "That's the balance in regards to the public safety and the freedom of speech."

Penning said the department is willing to speak with the community about any concerns or questions regarding heightened security. It's one way the department hopes to build trust and grow relations with the community much like the discussions taking place about policing from the past summer, he said. 

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