Police prepare for Democratic Convention
by Staff Writer
Next month’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte has local police and sheriff departments preparing for some changes in their regular procedures.
The convention, being held in Charlotte for the first time, is bringing with it 35,000 delegates, visitors, media members and of course, President Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
The convention begins Sept. 3.
Security restrictions in Charlotte will be heightened, and authorities from Gaston, Lincoln and Iredell are either directly or indirectly lending their services to help.
Robert Tufano, a public information officer for CMPD, would not discuss the specifics of the extra security measures, but said law enforcement will be prepared when the convention begins.
“We do expect a number of outside officers to assist us with the event,” Tufano said in an email.
“Our goal is to develop a seamless security plan that will ensure a safe environment for the community, dignitaries and event participants. Additionally, there has been a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination in the areas of venue security, air space security, training, communications and credentialing.”
The Huntersville Police Department will send a sizeable contingent to Charlotte. Those officers as well as the rest of the department have gone through special training to prepare for the event.
Deputy Chief Michael Kee said the manpower loss will result in a change of schedules around town.
“We’ve cancelled all vacations for that week, we’re going to have everyone in here,” he said. “We’ll have every officer that’s available in uniform.”
Huntersville police will be on 12-hour, rotating shifts during the week of the convention.
“I don’t think you can ever be completely ready for something of this magnitude, but we’re doing everything we can,” Kee said. “All hotels will be filled and we’re going to see a bunch of extra folks in the area.”
With those extra folks in the area, lake area police departments will likely work with one another in the event of a problem, Cornelius Captain Kevin Black said.
“I think once everyone gets their schedules ironed out, those conversations will definitely happen,” Black said. “I’ve been here 18 years and haven’t seen anything this big, you’ll see more police out and about in Cornelius.”
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department is unique from others in that it won’t send any officers directly to Charlotte.
Instead, Lincoln County authorities are on standby to help Gaston County, which will dispatch a small force to the convention.
“We’re not anticipating they’ll need any assistance, but we’ll be there just in case,” Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter said. “We’ve always had mutual agreements with them and we’re always available.”
Like Cornelius, Gaston County Deputy Chief Wade Leaphart said his department met with the surrounding counties to discuss possible plans.
For security reasons, Leaphart couldn’t disclose how many officers he’ll delegate for the convention.
“All the counties are on the same page,” Leaphart said. “We’ll have people helping in Charlotte, but we’ve got the manpower to assist if anything spills over into Gaston. That’s our first priority.”
Though it’s nearly a 30-mile trek, the Mooresville Police Department will send eight officers south to alleviate some of the pressure on Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Sept. 1-7.
“I don’t think the citizens of Mooresville will see any differences in our levels of service,” Maj. Ron Chilton said. “We’ve taken a few precautions to make sure we have adequate personnel here in town.”
Roles for the eight officers haven’t been determined yet, Chilton said.
Like Kee, Chilton said he hasn’t seen anything of the DNC’s magnitude come through the Charlotte region in his 14 years on the force.
“We’re definitely airing on the side of caution should there be any kind of overflow event to Mooresville,” Chilton said. “There are going to be folks from the federal government and folks coming to support and protest the event. They’ll be all around so everyone has to be a little more aware of what’s going on.”