Town Council President Maggie Zeidman praised Palm Beach's police and fire-rescue departments for helping to maintain public safety as protesters gathered following news of an FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club on Monday.
Speaking today at the beginning of the council's monthly development review meeting at Town Hall, Zeidman said that the agencies did a "terrific job" of containing crowds at the Southern Boulevard Bridge and protecting residents on the island.
She noted that the police department was not given advance notice of the search, which was conducted by the FBI as part of a federal investigation into allegations that the former president removed classified documents from the White House when he left office.
Under the law, any search would need to be authorized by a federal judge after finding probable cause that a crime had been committed and that evidence of the crime exists in the location to be searched.
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Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for removing presidential records from the White House and storing them at Mar-a-Lago for up to a year, a potentially serious violation of the law if the records were classified. Trump has denounced that investigation, saying he was entitled to take the records.
"Our police and fire departments have just done such a terrific job of containing what goes on, at the last minute," Zeidman said. "There was no notice to the police department. But we had enough police officers to handle both situations, at the Southern Boulevard Bridge as well as taking care of all of us here on the island."
Palm Beach Police confirmed it had not been given advance notice of the FBI search in a statement posted Tuesday on its Facebook page:
"We have received numerous requests from media outlets in regards to an incident that occurred at Mar-a-Lago yesterday," the post read. "The Palm Beach Police Department was not aware of the existence of a search warrant nor did our department assist the FBI in the execution of a search warrant.
"The Palm Beach Police Department continues to maintain a good relationship with the FBI; however, we are disappointed their lack of communication regarding this incident."
Zeidman said council member Ted Cooney, who chairs the town's Public Safety Committee, has visited the Mar-a-Lago area a few times to monitor the situation, and has kept in touch with Police Chief Nick Caristo.
"This is not something that we had planned for," Zeidman said. "Nick Caristo and his staff did a terrific job of covering it. I want to thank the police for that."
Jodie Wagner is a journalist at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach her at email@example.com. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Palm Beach Police praised for quick response to protesters in wake of Mar-a-Lago search