Policing the RNC


The latest brouhaha over convention policing isn’t about how, but about how many. The St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) says it will have enough boots on the ground by September 1—at least 3,500 cops—while Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher expresses doubts.

The SPPD says they have signed Joint Powers Agreements (JPA) with a number of other jurisdictions, and expect the convention cops to come from 80 jurisdictions. As of July 18, they have either 1,819 or 2,937 cops signed on. According to the Minnesota Independent:

[SPPD public information officer Tom] Walsh says that the city is expecting 550 officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, another 600 from various state agencies such as the State Patrol and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and plans to commit 500 St. Paul police — over 80 percent of its 600-member force. That comes to approximately 1,600 officers, or roughly half of the low-end estimate of the number needed. Smaller department are chipping in as well. The Duluth Police Department, for instance, plans to send 30 to 40 cops, while Blaine will contribute six officers. But it’s difficult to estimate how many total officers will be coming from these smaller departments.

Some local jurisdictions have delayed signing the JPAs because of concerns about liability, litigation and workers compensation. While St. Paul would like an official JPA, they can use, according to Walsh, temporary assignments of officers under less-formal mutual aid agreements.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that SPPD Chief John Harrington says 3,500 officers are needed and that they will be ready. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher says that 4,000 cops are needed, and that there are only 2,700 lined up.

St. Paul and Denver are each getting $50 million to fund convention security. St. Paul plans to spend the largest part on personnel, while Denver plans to spend more on hardware. The Justice Department has to okay spending plans, and—only six weeks before the convention begins—has not yet done so.