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Law Enforcement Officials Prepare For Potential Threats In Iowa Ahead Of Inauguration Day

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John Pemble
/
IPR
Local, state and federal law enforcement are working together to prepare for potential threats in Iowa ahead of Inauguration Day.

Local, state and federal law enforcement officials are coordinating to prepare for potential threats in Iowa heading into Inauguration Day. Following the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump extremists, the FBI has warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols.

Officials across multiple agencies say they haven’t received any credible, Iowa-specific threats so far, but they’re continuing to monitor social media and other sources in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

The FBI’s Omaha Field Office, which covers all of Nebraska and Iowa, has established a “command post” ahead of the inauguration in order to gather intelligence and coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies to “continuously share information based on tips submitted by the public," according to a written statement from the office.

“Between now and the presidential inauguration on January 20, we will maintain a heightened posture to monitor for any emerging threats to our region,” said Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel.

The Omaha Field Office is asking those with information about potential violence at upcoming protests or events to call 402-493-8688 or submit tips online at tips.fbi.gov.

Speaking on IPR’s River to River on Friday, Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said additional officers are patrolling the Statehouse.

“We’ve increased both our uniform and non-uniform presence up at the capitol,” Bayens said. “Currently we are not seeing any concrete threats that would cause us any grave concerns. However we always prepare for the worst and expect the best.”

Additionally, Bayens says the department’s intelligence division is “constantly” monitoring social media and providing updated information.

“We have a fleet of analysts that are constantly examining social media, are working with federal and local partners on emerging threats and are providing us real-time information virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Bayens said. “So if threats do arrive that are concrete, we can react appropriately.”

Sgt. Ryan Evans of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office also said his department is not currently aware of any credible threats, but said the office is “working closely” with state officials and the Des Moines Police Department to protect the state’s capital city.

Evans said officers are boarding up windows at the Polk County Courthouse, not based on any specific threat but simply as a precaution.

“We’re still working through the process,” Evans said in reference to ongoing monitoring of any additional threats or tips. “Operational plans” are in place, Evans added, in the event that a more robust response is needed.

Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department said his colleagues are also preparing for potential threats, but aren’t aware of anything substantial.

“We will continue to monitor our sources,” Parizek said. “We do have a strategic plan in place for the day of and days around the inauguration, and the ability to respond to any incident at a moment[’]s notice.”