(The Center Square) – As Election Day nears, Illinois State Police has been taking steps to ensure public safety during and after the election.
Director Brendan Kelly said along with the state Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois National Guard, ISP has been planning for months plans to safeguard the election and keep Illinois communities safe during the aftermath.
“The Illinois State Police will support state, local and federal partners as needed with threats to public officials, bomb threats, suspicious packages and other serious criminal investigations that could be related to elections,” Kelly said.
Kelly said state police have been taking part in readiness exercises with state and local partners. Terrorism intelligence is monitoring possible issues.
“Since its inception, the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, or STIC, has supported elected officials with information sharing and analysis of security events,” Kelly said. “In collaboration with our federal partners, STIC serves as a hub for sharing election-related matters.”
Kelly said state police will have high-visibility patrols during the election period to help local law enforcement with any issues at polling places. He said the state agency will provide extra personnel if needed.
Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, the public affairs director for the Illinois National Guard, declined to speculate on the guard's involvement.
"I cannot speculate as to what role, if any, we will play in post-election security. That said, if we do play a role, it will be in support of and subordinate to civilian law enforcement," he said in a statement. "Earlier this year, we did play a law enforcement support role by protecting infrastructure, providing some traffic control and doing some presence patrols – basically acting as the eyes and ears of civilian law enforcement."
If the Illinois National Guard is activated, it would have a subsidiary role.
"It is important to note that the National Guard is not an auxiliary police force and we are limited legally and morally in what we can do," Leighton said. "For example, we cannot arrest people or investigate crimes."
The National Guard is gearing up to activate across the country to support the Nov. 3 general election in several ways, according to the Military Times. The missions range from assisting with cyber defense, working the polls like in Kentucky, and standing by in case of post-election unrest.
At least 1,400 troops have been committed to the effort, with about 1,000 from Texas alone. Many states have yet to commit guard troops in the coming days.