COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — About a third of Cleveland’s police officers will be assigned to duties related to the Republican National Convention during the event this month, the police chief said in an open letter that noted officers have received comprehensive training and will get help from other law enforcement agencies.
City officials have insisted police are ready to meet the security needs of the massive event, which is expected to draw up to 50,000 people, but the police union continues to raise concerns that officers aren’t fully prepared and equipped for the challenges they might face.
Officers not tasked with convention-related work will continue to staff neighborhood districts and specialized police units, Chief Calvin Williams said in the Wednesday letter posted on the police division’s website and Facebook page. The department has about 1,200 patrol officers and 300 supervisors.
Cleveland police are partnering with agencies from throughout the country to ensure there’s an adequate law enforcement presence for the event, and city officers have trained with partnering agencies to ensure they follow high standards, Williams said.
Though officers will face long days and challenging work, it’s an exciting time for the city, he said.
“This event will put Cleveland in the national spotlight, as did the Cleveland Cavaliers parade just a short time ago,” he said. “The time is upon us once again to showcase Cleveland and what we, as a community, are all about.”
In his own letter Wednesday to officers, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Stephen Loomis accused city officials of trying to squeeze in training in the weeks immediately preceding the convention.
“This last hour rushing is simply a weak attempt to divert responsibility/liability away from the city and on to us should things go poorly,” he wrote. “We simply will not allow that to happen.”
Concerns about potential protests during the convention have increased as groups supporting and opposing presumptive nominee Donald Trump have said they’d be in Cleveland.
Associated Press reporter Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.