Cops and GOP Convention Goers are Sitting Ducks, Says Cleveland Police Union

AP File Photo/Noah Berger

The president of the Cleveland Ohio police union warns that cops and convention goers are “sitting ducks” at the 2016 Republican National Convention. The City of Cleveland is ill-equipped to handle the thousands of professional leftist, Black Lives Matter, and other protesters and there is just under a month to go before the convention.

Tens of thousands of truckers, bikers, Trump supporters and convention delegates are expected to pour into the city during the convention.

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told Breitbart Texas that Cleveland city officials are still refusing to heed, some arrogantly so, the recommendations of federal security officials. This is even though the City has procured insurance, as reported, to cover the “anticipated” “large scale rioting.”

The police union head charges that the mayor of Cleveland “just does not get it.” He adds that “Command staff has arrogantly dismissed concerns of officials from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).”

The City of Cleveland has asked officers from across the country to help provide security; however, Loomis says he has massive concerns about the safety and security of both his “rank and file officers,” and officers from other cities. He said, “I wouldn’t hold it against them if they decided to pull-out.” He told Breitbart Texas that City officials “Just take, take, take, but need to pretend for a moment that they really care about us.”

Breitbart Texas spoke with Charley Wilkison, the Executive Director of CLEAT (Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas) who said Cleveland PD asked Texas officers and cities in other states for assistance. The city police departments in Fort Worth and Austin have agreed to send officers to Cleveland. Wilkison says they are treating it as a “training exercise.” Texas jurisdictions will be without these officers while they are working at the convention.

Wilkison says he is “deeply concerned” about the civil and criminal liability that his officers are being exposed to. The organization will have legal counsel in Cleveland. CLEAT protects its members’ interests by providing legal representation, legislative and political power, and labor negotiations. The union head said municipalities generally deputize officers when they are deployed to another state but at least 150 CLEAT members will be working without being deputized locally.

Agent Ronald L. Rowe, Jr., RNC Coordinator for the U.S. Secret Service, stated during a City of Cleveland briefing in late May that the GOP Convention has been designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as “a National Special Security Event.” The agent called the convention a “very complex event” that would have to be dealt with through a “collaborative effort.”

In a presentation entitled “RNC Cleveland 2016: Protecting Guests, Maintaining Safety,” Michael McGrath, Safety Director for the City of Cleveland, said the city was going to partner with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). He stated that the city has received a National Special Security Event (“NSSE”) grant and the City will have to account for how it spends the money. He added that the Secret Service was acting as the lead agency to develop a security plan. The police union president said that city officials are ignoring the experts.

According to the DHS FEMA website, when an event is designated as a NSSE event, the Secret Service develops “a core strategy to carry out its security operations” but it “relies heavily on its established partnerships with law enforcement and public safety officials at the local, state, and federal levels.”

As it relates to just Cleveland PD officers, Loomis told Breitbart Texas, “I need to know exactly what they are going to do to deal with the confidence factor.” He said his officers need better information and training. He added that city officials and business leaders spent millions to woo the convention but Cleveland is too small to handle the almost certain inferno. He said the police force is equipped to deal with the 400,000 that swells to almost 600,000 during the workweek, but he is worried about the political invasion. The City apparently has a different perspective.

Edward Eckart, Assistant Director of Public Safety, said he hoped that folks got the sense that the City has the following “strengths.” He outlined them on an overhead projector during the City’s briefing as: “People;” “Collaboration;” “Training;” and “Equipment.” The Cleveland police union president raised questions about all of these areas.

Loomis said he was concerned about the number of uniformed officers to cover the convention, and also added that his officers were upset because they were told at the last minute they could not take a vacation before, during, or after, the convention. He said it has caused “problems,” e.g., officers paid for airfare and had made vacation arrangements. He noted that the City has had two years to plan but charges that it is not complying with FEMA’s directive for 4,000 uniformed officers. He said the City is saying they will have plain clothes cops in the crowd and are doing so to hide the lack of manpower.

“Whether they be Black Lives Matter, for Hillary, or Bernie supporters, or anarchists,” Loomis is worried about the “thousands” of protesters. He said that RNC (Republican National Convention) events are harder to police because of the protesters who come in. He contrasted Democratic National Convention (DNC) protesters saying they are “much easier to deal with.” Loomis noted “This is not uncharted waters” and the City has past conventions to look to for guidance.

At the 2008 Republican National Convention leftist protesters planned and tried to shut down the convention by any means necessary. At that time, Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby was working undercover with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. They were working together to stop the extremists from preventing convention attendees from exercising their First Amendment right to free speech and assembly. In this interview with Breitbart News, Darby explained, “People have to remember, this isn’t a bunch of unorganized and disorganized kids.”

Darby explained that “they mapped out the city, maps with corporate targets, business leaders home addresses, and Republican delegates home addresses, and also where the hotels were the delegates were going to be staying in. And they handed out these maps and then they showed people videos of Molotov cocktails and various other criminal behavior and asked everyone to be creative and feel free to use what they called a diversity of tactics and to make sure the Republican National Convention can’t occur, you know, can’t happen.” He said they were going to chain themselves across the major arteries so that the delegates could not get to the convention center. They also made riot shields out of stolen traffic barrels and the riot shields had protruding sharpened deck screws on them. Their protests signs were made out of heavy, heavy sticks so they could actually be used as a weapon against police. They “slashed the tires of the buses, they threw bleach and urine in the delegates faces, and they attacked the buses and the people on the buses.”

The police union president says he is worried about his officers but adds he will treat officers from outside of Cleveland “as our own.” The City of Cleveland wants the jurisdictions to sign memorandum of agreements (MOA). “If someone is injured, or sued civilly, clearly it should be Cleveland and not the other cities,” he said. The cities of Seattle, Greensboro, and Denver have now decided not to participate.

Instead of providing training, the City has handed out a 28-page “GPO” (General Police Order) on how to respond. Loomis calls it, “Just a cover your ass piece of work.” He said the document “is absolutely going to tie our hands.” He said there is no way that officers will be able to adhere to the document.

For one, the GPO has almost countless references to the word “deescalate.” He added, “This is a beautiful word for the DOJ.” Officers have received no training as to what federal and City officials think is proper “deescalation.” Loomis said as to the document again, “It’s a cover your butts and leave our collective butts out in the breeze.”

The GPO also states that if there is “an active shooter” in a crowd, “under no circumstances” may officers do anything about it, Loomis says.  The association head says he thinks the document is “a direct, knee-jerk reaction to Orlando.” Orlando was recently the site of an attack by a Islamic terrorist who killed and wounded over 100 people in a gay bar.

Cleveland officers have also not received their riot gear. He adds that Philadelphia, the site of the National Democratic Convention on July 25, has had their gear for seven months. He added that his officers were not measured for the protective vests, and municipal officials waited too long to finally accept the lowest bid. He says the City just ordered the vests from a “second-rate” company in Taiwan. He is concerned about getting the personal protective gear in time, and notes they do not have helmets, shields, or groin or thigh protection. He says gas masks have not been fitted for personal eye prescriptions.

Loomis adds that officers from out of state will be placed in non-air conditioned dorms. Officers will also be transported in school buses.

The GOP National Convention has been designated a “gun free zone.” As reported by Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price, the Secret Service announced in late March that guns will not be allowed at the convention. Licensed Texans were allowed to carry their handguns (open and/or concealed) at its May state convention.

Cleveland has been rated #11 of the top “most liberal cities” in the nation by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research (BACVR). The last time Cleveland hosted Republicans at their national convention was in 1936.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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