A North Carolina police department backed out of sending 50 police officers to the Republican presidential convention in Cleveland in June over concerns about whether the city is prepared to host an event that is expected to bring at least 50,000 visitors to northeast Ohio.
Greensboro police made the decision earlier this week to pull its officers from the event, saying the city isn’t providing workers’ compensation for coverage for out-of-town officers and is requiring them to get physical exams they’d have to pay for themselves.
Deputy Police Chief Brian James wrote in a memo to the city’s police chief that he had spoken with police administrators experienced in planning events like the GOP convention and that they expressed “a lack of confidence in the city of Cleveland and their preparedness.”
"We have a responsibility to ensure that we are sending our officers to an event that is well planned," James wrote.
James told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that his memo wasn’t intended to take shots at Cleveland police or say they weren’t prepared to handle the convention.
"But for us, for coming out of our jurisdiction into another state, we had hoped that we would have better clarification on different logistical issues, and specifically what our assignments would be going into Cleveland," James said. "And we don't have that information at this time."
A spokesman for the city of Cleveland sent an email Friday afternoon that said the Greensboro memo was inaccurate but didn't elaborate.
A Cleveland police union official has been sounding the alarm for months about how Cleveland officers are not being properly trained to deal with potentially tumultuous protests. Groups supporting and opposing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are planning to stage rallies and protests during the convention, which begins July 18.
"The city of Cleveland has been absolutely irresponsible for preparation of this convention," Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, said Friday.
A number of city police departments in Ohio and other states have decided not to send officers to Cleveland, including Cincinnati, Loomis said.
A Cincinnati police spokesman said Friday that the previous police chief had discussed sending officers to Cleveland, but his successor decided against it because of the insurance issue and because Cincinnati is hosting the national NAACP convention the same week.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams responded to allegations that the city wasn’t prepared in a news conference Wednesday.
"A lot has been said that Cleveland is not prepared for the RNC," Williams said. "Well, I'll tell you today, we are prepared."