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With the Republican National Convention less than 50 days away and counting down, the City of Cleveland, which is hosting the event, has been busy sprucing up and renovating public areas and preparing for a flood of visitors.
The four-day convention, July 18-21, is expected to draw more than 50,000 people, including 15,000 members of the media, world-wide. And with great attention now focused on the RNC's rules committee which meets the week before in Cleveland, thousands of the media are expected to be coming to the city early to cover that event as well.
As with other conventions, the Cleveland gathering will be designated by the federal government as a National Special Security Event, which means that ultimate authority over law enforcement lies with the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
Those agencies will designate the security zone around the venue for the convention, which is Quicken Loans Arena. The security zone is under the control of the Secret Service.
Steve King, chairman of the RNC Committee on Arrangements, said at a recent committee hearing several times, “I’m completely and totally comfortable with the CPD and the Secret Service. “We will have a fun, safe Republican Convention.”
The federal government, as it has done with previous conventions, is providing up to $50 million for security, which includes $20 million for food, housing, material and equipment and $30 million for travel, salaries and overtime for the personnel.
In addition, the Cleveland Police Department has been working for more than a year with federal, state and area law enforcement agencies to ensure that various forces are in coordination with each other.
“There will be thousands of federal, state and local officers,” Police Chief Calvin Williams told Council’s Safety Committee. “We will have more than enough officers to secure this convention.”
Security planning includes dealing with and ensuring the first amendment rights of those who want to publicly express their opinions.
“We are confident that the Cleveland Police Department will ensure that everyone is safe and free to exercise their constitutional rights of free speech,” said Cleveland City Council President Kevin J. Kelley.
Cleveland is dispatching its own force of about 1,600 as well as other safety forces from various law enforcement agencies throughout the region, the state and other states.
(Under the city of Cleveland’s charter, the Director of Public Safety is authorized to “commission” as policemen and policewomen safety forces from outside of Cleveland. “All persons so commissioned shall have full police powers as prescribed by law.” 135.20)
The extra forces will ensure that Cleveland’s neighborhoods, including the growing downtown neighborhood, are not without the usual staffing during convention activities near and around the Q.
The police chief also assured the committee that police staffing levels in the city’s neighborhoods will be up to 15 percent more than current levels.
“All hands on deck,” said Chief Williams. No one’s taking a vacation during the convention, including me.”
“The citizens of Cleveland can rest assured that their neighborhoods will be closely watched by regular police patrols,” said Councilman Matt Zone, chairman of Council’s Safety Committee. “Safety in our neighborhoods will not be compromised by a downtown convention.”
We will update information as it becomes available. For more details about the convention visit: http://convention.gop/ and https://www.2016cle.com/.