Convention cops: SPPD official asks for more police volunteers, offers to forgo JPAs

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Here’s a follow-up to my story yesterday about the St. Paul Police Department’s troubles in rounding up cops to patrol the streets during the Republican National Convention in September. As I wrote, one of the main sticking points has been the joint powers agreement (JPA) that St. Paul is asking other police agencies to sign.

Matt BostromToday I obtained a copy of an email sent yesterday by SPPD assistant chief Matt Bostrom (pictured), who’s heading up the local security efforts for the RNC. Two takeaway points here: 1) St. Paul is still looking for more cops (or rather, in Bostrom’s delicate phrase, “There is still a perception that we need more officers/deputies”). And 2), the city is no longer insisting that signing a JPA is the only way to participate.

In the email, addressed to the heads of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Bostrom holds out the possibility that officers from other departments could volunteer on the basis of providing “mutual aid” to St. Paul for a “day or two.” Such agreements between police departments are typically invoked during large-scale events that require outside personnel, like the Super Bowl or natural disasters.

Bostrom adds that he’d like to hear answers before next Tuesday, when he’ll be meeting with Gov. Tim Pawlenty to talk about convention preparedness.

According to SPPD spokesman Tom Walsh, this represents an alternative means by which agencies can participate in RNC security efforts. He emphasizes, however, that signing on to a JPA is still the preferred means for police departments to assist. “Some people don’t want to do the paperwork to do that,” he says. “That’s fine.”

Here’s the full text of the email:

Harlan and Jim

Thank you again for your efforts to help us staff at the 2008 RNC. The good news is: we have enough personnel to staff the core functions.

If Chief Harrington already mentioned this, then please forgive me.

There is still a perception that we need more officers/deputies.

I am wondering if you could send out an electronic inquiry to the District 4 Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Associations. Setting aside any JPA numbers they have alread provided … If the SPPD called for mutual aid, how many personnel woudl EACH agency be able to send for a day or two?

Essentially, I would like to depict two numbers:

–Officers/Deputies in assignments under the JPA (We already have the this (sic) via the current JPAs)

–Officers/Deputies available under mutual aid

Is there any way you could query your leaders prior to next Tuesday? (We have a meeting with the Governor and would like to show him the actual support being provided by our Law Enforcement partners)

A simple presentation of numbers associated with the JPAs does not do justice to the actual willingness to help each other during big events/incidents.

Please call me if you have any concerns/questions?

Thank you again for your assistance.

Matt