Dallas attack adds to Cleveland concerns
before Republican convention
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[July 09, 2016]
By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Cleveland police on Friday tightened their
security plan for the Republican National Convention after the deadly
shootings of police officers in Dallas, increasing surveillance and
intelligence operations just 10 days before the convention.
Other police departments across the country required officers to patrol
in pairs rather than alone following the ambush in Dallas, the deadliest
day for police in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on
New York and Washington.
In Cleveland, the attack raised another potential threat during the July
18-21 convention, when Donald Trump is expected to receive the
Republican nomination for president.
The police officers' labor union, rank-and-file cops and some outside
experts had already questioned Cleveland's preparedness for the
convention with the city's police under federal supervision over use of
Ten days before the event, Cleveland was still training police officers
for duty at the convention, which is expected to draw 50,000 visitors as
well as clamorous protests and crown the most contentious presidential
candidate in memory.
Rather than a security team reinforced by the country's largest police
departments as it hoped, the city has cobbled together 3,000 officers,
mostly from state agencies, who will use borrowed and rented equipment.
"When the convention was awarded to Cleveland (in 2014), folks weren’t
thinking about this.... Yes, there is a generalized worry," said Matthew
Barge, court-appointed monitor for the U.S. Justice Department's
oversight of Cleveland police.
CLEVELAND POLICE CONFIDENT
Ed Tomba, the city's deputy police chief and head of convention
security, had previously told Reuters he was "very, very confident" in
the city's convention plan. He reiterated that confidence in a telephone
interview on Friday in response to the Dallas attack.
"We have got to make some changes without a doubt," Tomba said,
mentioning the surveillance of potential threats from street level and
"We will have plenty of people watching over different locations. We are
beefing up the intelligence component, too. They are going to be very,
very active," Tomba said.
Police throughout the United States ordered their officers to work in
pairs following the shooting in Dallas, including those in New York,
Chicago and St. Louis.
New York officers will "double up" on all assignments and auxiliary
police officers who are unarmed except for night sticks will not be used
in the field for the next few days, Police Commissioner William Bratton
told a news conference.
St. Louis police also will be required to wear ballistic vests when
leaving any station for enforcement activities, Chief Sam Dotson said on
Tomba said he spent part of Friday morning reassuring out-of-town police
departments that their officers on loan to Cleveland will be safe during
the convention, telling them in an email that "we cannot pull the plan
off without them."
Cleveland police union President Steve Loomis has been among the most
vocal critics, complaining that front-line officers would be
undertrained and poorly equipped.
[to top of second column]
Cleveland mounted police look on prior to Republican U.S.
presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in
Cleveland, Ohio, March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
"They are setting up my guys for failure," Loomis said before the
Civic leaders have said Cleveland is experiencing a renaissance
following decades of decline, and that reputation will be on the
line during the convention.
Two separate incidents of fatal police shootings in recent years
have brought unwelcome national attention to the city.
In 2012, 13 Cleveland officers fired 137 shots into the car of an
unarmed African-American man and his female passenger, killing both.
The U.S. Justice Department investigated and imposed special federal
oversight known as a consent decree that remains in force.
Then in 2014, four months after the Republicans chose Cleveland for
the convention, a white police officer shot dead 12-year-old Tamir
Rice, who was black, in a case that became a national focal point
for the protest movement Black Lives Matter.
The most recent report from the federal monitor overseeing the
Cleveland consent decree portrays a police department where physical
infrastructure is strained, with computers and cars "run-down or
deficient," forcing police to pay for repairs out of their own
pockets and use their personal vehicles for police work.
Loomis, the union leader, said half of Cleveland police officers
have yet to receive convention training.
That number is "probably close," Tomba said on Thursday.
Upon getting the convention, Cleveland asked 200 police departments
to send officers, including those from big cities which generally
have the best anti-terrorist schooling.
Many big cities turned Cleveland down, saying they were unable to
spare officers, Tomba said.
But Cleveland has exceeded its goal by bringing in 3,000
reinforcements who will receive training at home plus a short course
upon arriving, Tomba said.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Michelle Conlin and Stephanie
Kelly in New York; and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Writing by Daniel
Trotta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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