BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) – In the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the looting and vandalism which occurred over the summer, the city of Beverly Hills is planning to shut down its famous Rodeo Drive on Election Day.
“That was a scary time,” Todd Johnson, president of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, said.
The news was announced during a Thursday BHCC meeting.
Terming it a “hard closure,” Beverly Hills Assistant Chief of Police Marc Coopwood told the BHCC his department is working on a plan to close Rodeo Drive to both drivers and pedestrians between Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards on Nov. 3 and possibly Nov. 4.
“So we are going to have the K-rail cement-type barricades, where it’s not going to allow any vehicle or traffic into the Rodeo Drive area,” Coopwood said.
Retail stores along Rodeo are not required to close, but are being asked to do so voluntarily. Coopwood said police are still working on plans for businesses such as medical offices who may have patients with appointments.
Amid the George Floyd protests in late May and early June, Beverly Hills was one of multiple Southland cities that was hit hard by looters. They ransacked and vandalized businesses and set some of the ablaze. The violence forced L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to call in the National Guard and prompted Beverly Hills to institute a curfew for several days.
Coopwood stressed the plans could change depending on what new, real-time information the city receives through the course of the next 11 days.
“Everything that I say is subject to change, because a lot of what we’re doing with our deployments are intelligence-driven,” he said. “We are planning for the worst, and we can de-escalate from there.”
Starting Oct. 31, all 135 Beverly Hills police officers will be on tactical alert — 12 hours on, 12 hours off — through election day. A SWAT team from Santa Paula will come in to back them up and 80 private security guards, all ex-military or law enforcement, will patrol the city starting on Halloween in an effort to deter criminal activity.
“I would even now venture to say that we’re the most prepared city in all the state of California, possibly the nation,” Lt. Max Subin, BHPD, said.
The city’s emergency operations center will also be activated with the city council authorizing $4.8 million to cover the cost of the election security plan.
“If people want to come and voice their opinion, their amendment right, absolutely we’re not gonna hold that back from them,” Johnson said. “But anyone that’s gonna get unruly, if someone tries to do that now, we’ll they’re not even gonna be able to get on Rodeo Drive.”