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Cleveland Police discuss RNC safety plans

Posted at 7:54 PM, Apr 06, 2016

Hundreds of police officers are being trained in crowd control, traffic and dignitary protection in preparation for the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland in July. 

Cleveland police and fire officials briefed Cleveland City Council members Tuesday on safety plans for the convention. 

Deputy Police Chief Edward Tomba told the safety committee that the RNC has been designated as a special national security event. As such, the FBI is responsible for counter terrorism, the Secret Service will help out with neighborhood security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is responsible for consequence management.

More than 670 officers have already been trained by FEMA and there are several more classes scheduled, Tomba said.  

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said staffing levels for the convention will be at 115 percent. 

“We’ve canceled vacations for our command staff starting in May,” Chief Williams explained. 

He expected officers to move from an 8-hour or 10-hour shift to 12-hour shifts for the convention. 

Fire staffing levels will be at 100 percent and the city’s EMS has hired two private ambulance companies to help cover the convention. 

The convention’s Committee on Arrangements Chairman Steve King repeatedly told the council that he is satisfied with the city’s security arrangements. 

“I know this will be a fun, safe Republican convention,” King said. 

Police officials said they are drawing up a list of prohibited items within the convention perimeter. They did not provide a specific list of items but said guns are allowed outside the arena if they are properly licensed. Guns are not allowed inside the arena. 

Deputy Chief Tomba also addressed concerns that police would be arming themselves with “military-style” equipment. 

“I can assure you we’re not purchasing any military style equipment, we’re not purchasing any nerve gas, we’re not purchasing any tanks we’re not purchasing anything that would look like an occupied city or occupied force,” he said. 

RNC organizers also put to rest concerns that a contested convention would cause the event to go on indefinitely. 

“There will be a four-day convention in Cleveland, Ohio,” explained Jeff Larson, CEO for the 2016 Republican National Convention. 

Larson said that his committee will have four weeks to prepare the arena instead of the usual six weeks due to the Clevleand Cavaliers' playoffs schedule.