iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — Cleveland really wants you to know that it will be safe and prepared to host the 2016 Republican National Convention in July.
City officials unveiled a “preparedness plan” on Tuesday to show how they plan to secure the large-scale event, touting the work they are doing in collaboration with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and saying they’re “all in” — a nod to the phrase made popular by the city’s finals-bound professional basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“We are prepared,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said during the press conference. “We have done our due diligence in many different ways.”
Several officials from Cleveland’s public safety department also spoke, including representatives from emergency medical services, fire and rescue, communications, corrections, and emergency management. Federal agencies will also be involved in securing the RNC, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also providing training for all security personnel.
“I think you’re going to be blown away by the amount of hours that have been put into training,” Assistant Director of Public Safety Edward Eckart said.
Cleveland’s “preparedness plan” includes training in 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendment rights, crisis management, intelligence gathering and emergency management. There will be police officers on foot patrol, bike patrol, motorcycle patrol and mounted patrol.
The Secret Service is the lead agency in charge of the “Hard Zone” within the Quicken Loans Arena area, where presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump will address a crowd of thousands. Though officials can’t say where the “Hard Zone” begins or ends, Cleveland’s Chief of Police Calvin Williams said, “If you can see Quicken Loans Arena and throw a baseball at it, you’re in the Hard Zone.”
As ABC News reported last week, some out-of-state police departments had expressed concern over a lack of workers’ compensation insurance for officers should they be injured while on the job in Cleveland. Cleveland officials finally acknowledged this Tuesday, saying that per Ohio law, Cleveland cannot provide workers’ compensation insurance to officers from outside jurisdictions, so out-of-state officers will have to retain insurance from their home state.
“If any state has any questions about that, they were informed about that months ago,” said Rick Horvath, Cleveland’s chief corporate counsel.
Williams would not confirm the number of departments involved, saying that he was not allowed to say, but he said that “thousands” of officers would be in Cleveland during the RNC despite the lack of workers’ compensation insurance. And he insisted they will be ready, refuting rumors of “unpreparedness” and saying his office sent many letters of solicitation to various police departments all over the country and that they have hundreds of departments offering to help. These officers will be working in unison with Cleveland police. They will be provided with housing and meals during their stay, paid for by the $50 million federal grant Cleveland received to cover RNC costs, Williams said.
“The key to this whole thing is that all officers coming in from outside agencies will be supervised by the Cleveland Division of Police,” Williams said. “Our partner agencies know where they are staying, know what to bring, and know their assignments.” He also said all arrests will be made by Cleveland police officers and not by officers from other jurisdictions, though all officers will have “leeway” if there is immediate violence.
Some officers will also be equipped with body cameras during the RNC, and none will be wearing military-style clothing unless the city dictates it in the case of civilian unrest. If so, body cameras will not be a requirement because they don’t fit on the protective clothing, so the city will dispatch a “video unit” that will be charged with recording police interactions.
Eckart said the goal of the video unit is to ensure full disclosure is met, saying “we want to be able to document everything” in order to be “a total open book in reporting all of the action going on in the community during this event.”
Deputy Chief of Police Edward Tomba says Cleveland will administer “swift, appropriate, constitutional” action to mitigate any disruptions.
“We’re not going to stand for lawlessness,” Tomba said.
There will also be medical teams in place to provide treatment for injuries on site, and ambulances will also be available to transport patients to area hospitals. In the case that Cleveland runs out of jail space, Cleveland’s Division of Corrections is under contract with Cuyahoga and Geauga Counties for additional jail beds and they will also help with booking and processing. Inmates will also have access to 24-hour inmate care in case of medical emergencies.
And RNC officials are backing Cleveland, telling ABC News that the convention will be a safe environment.
“Cleveland will be secure, our lead agencies are the Secret Service and the city of Cleveland and they have been working tirelessly with our federal, state and local partners to plan ahead of the convention so we have a safe and productive event for convention-goers and guests,” RNC Communications Director Kirsten Kukowski said.
Despite all the planning and training for worst-case scenarios, Cleveland officials say they are excited for the opportunity to have the world’s eyes on the city of Cleveland.
“We are not looking at this as a negative,” Tomba said. “This is a positive for our city. We will be prepared, we are prepared, and we are trained.”
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