Less than two weeks before the opening of the Republican National Convention, significant questions remain about the preparedness of the St. Paul Police Department to oversee security efforts. For weeks the law-enforcement agency has been scrambling to cobble together enough officers to work the event, with out-of-state departments the latest to be tapped.
“All the indicators that make it our way make it seem like they’re in crisis mode,” says Dave Titus, president of the St. Paul Police Federation. “The fact that we are looking to out-of-the-state agencies with these few days to go tells me that the ball was dropped.”
The latest rumor rumbling through law-enforcement circles is that the Minnesota National Guard will be utilized on security operations at the convention site. But SPPD spokesman Tom Walsh says any guard presence will be limited to logistical support. “You’re not going to see anybody in a uniform at the Xcel Energy Center,” he says.
The Minnesota National Guard also issued a statement laying out its expected duties during the RNC. “Just as we routinely do in state emergencies, the National Guard is available in the event that additional manpower, equipment or capability is needed,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson in the statement. “Due to the National Special Security Event status, there are more than 1,000 Minnesota National Guard troops dedicated to assist. The Minnesota National Guard is a partner in a support role with local, state and federal law enforcement during the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.”