COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – With political tensions high across the nation, deputies in Muscogee County are prepared to safeguard the city and community if necessary.
Violent protests and riots took place at the United States Capitol on January 6, causing distress and unrest throughout Washington D.C. and the nation. The FBI has warned there could be more “armed protests” and possible riots in all 50 states in reaction to the Presidential Inauguration.
The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and Columbus Police Department are prepared for anything that may transpire in the community on Inauguration Day. Major Steve Sikes of the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office says he has never seen political tension this high.
“I was surprised at the events that unfolded January 6 at the Capitol. The sheriff’s office respects everyone’s right to protest regardless of what you’re protesting as long as it’s peaceful. If it turns violent towards individuals or damages property, then that cannot be tolerated and that’s where law enforcement needs to step in,” Sikes said.
Based on the intel the sheriff’s office has received, there are currently no indications that protests could occur in the Columbus-area. Though there is a possibility that things could change and a protest could start in the community. Sikes says turbulent times like these make him worry about risks to his deputies and the dangers they might face.
“I’m always fearful for our safety, the men and women that work here at the sheriff’s office, they’re my family. Them making it home at the end of their shift is my top concern and my top priority to make sure that they do that,” Sikes said.
Sikes says deputies and police officers are well trained to handle riots and protests that may occur in the city. Both law enforcement agencies are prepared for anything that may happen on Inauguration Day.
“Between us and the police department, both agencies are very well trained and we work well together,” Sikes said.
If protests were to take place in Atlanta, Ga., there is always the possibility that protests could trickle down to Columbus considering that Atlanta is 106 miles away. As the Major stated earlier, there does not appear to be any intel of protest taking place.
Katina Williams, Chief of Staff of the Columbus Police Department, also released a statement:
“So far we haven’t received any direct threats here in Columbus, but were prepared to handle anything were faced with. If you see something that isn’t right or a protest, anything going on that strikes you as being violent or unlawful you can dial 911.”