Cleveland officials: We are ready for the RNC

Posted at 10:10 AM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 20:12:29-04

Cleveland officials came out in force at a news conference Tuesday morning to declare that the Republican National Convention will be a plus for the city but that law enforcement is not going to tolerate lawlessness.

"We are prepared, we are ready, and our partners are out there prepared and ready," Police Chief Calvin Williams said, referring to a host of federal, state and local law enforcement officials who are collaborating on RNC security.
Police started hammering out a strategy even before the city was awarded the convention, according to Williams.
But beefed up law enforcement does not mean that Cleveland officials consider the event a negative.
"This is a positive for our city. And we're going to showcase all that our city has to offer," Deputy Chief of Police Edward Tomba said. 
This positive attitude is combined with a plan for zero tolerance when it comes to law breakers.
"We're not going to stand for any lawlessness," Tomba said.
People who want to come into Cleveland and have their voice heard in a lawful manner will be assisted, Tomba said. "But anybody that goes sideways and is not following the law, there's going to be consequences."
And those consequences will be swift and appropriate, he added.
Officials declined to share classified information about security, but at times they hinted at it.
Police have received a flood of questions about the hard zone for security. It hasn't been determined; but even once it is, it will not be released, Tomba said.
But according to secret service, if someone can see Quicken Loans Arena and throw a baseball at it, chances are they're in the secure zone, Tomba said.
The hard boundaries are not the only unknowns.
There will be officers and individuals and things you never see, Williams said. "But they'll be here making sure this city is safe."
Among things unseen, protective gear came up.
What people will observe, according to Tomba, is foot patrol officers in Class B uniforms consisting of short-sleeve shirts, slacks and hats. They will also encounter officers on bicycles with shorts, polo shirts and helmets; as well as mounted patrols on horses; and officers on motorcycles.
During the planning process, Tomba said he asked counterparts across the country what they would do differently if they could. They advised having more officers on bicycle and foot patrol along with more community engagement.
Law enforcement won't don military-style equipment or wear personal protective gear unless a situation dictates it, according to Tomba.
Body-worn cameras will be on officers in Class B uniforms. But should police need to wear personal protective gear, it is not required. There is no place to wear them in that case, according to Tomba.
The security team has established a video unit to mitigate this. Add to that the media coverage and cell phone users at the convention, Tomba said he is confident any interaction with law enforcement will be documented.
But he considers it the video unit's responsibility to record incidents.
The division of police and its law enforcement partners are all singing from the same hymnal, and it's an open book, according to Cleveland's Assistant Director of Public Safety, Edward Eckart.

Their presentations followed weeks of national criticism that questioned Cleveland's preparedness for the RNC.

Some police departments publicly dropped their partnerships with Cleveland, saying the city is not ready. 

Cincinnati and Greensboro, North Carolina pulled out of the partnership last week.

"Having had a little bit of experience preparing for an event like that, we didn't feel like we were at the same place as we were in the past," Greensboro Deputy Chief Brian Adams shared with NewsChannel 5. 

We asked Cleveland's police chief about that.

He said it's not true. 

"Our partner agencies know where they will be staying. They know what we need them to bring and what we will provide and they know what their assignments are going to be," Chief Williams said. 

And while some of the RNC preparations are still a work in progress, city officials emphasized that everything will be ready come July. 

NewsChannel 5 asked, "We will have the officers that we need on the streets?"

 "Yes, absolutely," Deputy Chief Ed Tomba answered.

The full security announcement can be viewed in the player above.