Police in northern Virginia will be increasing law enforcement presence in malls and shopping centers in the area through the Halloween weekend after news of a potential threat to public safety in the area emerged in the past 48 hours, according to multiple reports.
The news comes amid an upcoming gubernatorial election in Virginia, to take place Nov. 2.
Authorities in multiple Virginia counties—including Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William—issued statements on Friday saying that the threat is not specific, but asked residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
“Yesterday, we received information concerning potential public safety impacts to malls and shopping centers across the region. As you all know, we take any and all information very seriously,” Fairfax County Chief of Police Kevin Davis told a news conference on Friday.
“And as we work to corroborate it, we have increased our police presence throughout the county to include major thoroughfares, transit hubs, shopping plazas, and shopping malls.”
He said there will be “increased patrols throughout the next several days.”
“We receive information. Sometimes the information we receive is not with great specificity, but we have to respond to it nonetheless,” Davis said, adding that police are being “proactive.”
A spokesperson for the FBI Washington Field Office told local outlets in an emailed statement that the agency had no comment.
“However, we would remind you the FBI takes all potential threats to public safety seriously and we take all appropriate steps to determine the credibility of any information we receive,” the spokesperson said.
Mike Valerio, a reporter for CBS-affiliate WUSA9, said on Twitter, “Federal officials I’ve spoken with today hope the word of an elevated police presence and public knowledge of the threat will deter the person(s) from acting.”