Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President Steve Loomis is predicting a doomsday scenario for security at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Cleveland, alleging the city is not properly equipping and training officers for the expected mayhem.
Loomis told WKYC the union plans to “hold the city responsible” for any officer injuries or other destruction at the RNC July 18-21 because the city has not adequately trained police or provided properly fitting gear, a message he’s harped on for months. Loomis also accused Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson with dereliction of duty for not being prepared.
Last month, Loomis told Fox News that the 2,000 riot suits ordered by the city was behind schedule, and officers were not fitted for the gear until after the order went in. He claimed bicycles for patrols were also ordered late, making training impossible before the convention.
“You have to be proficient in being able to use this stuff and right now, we’re not,” Loomis said last month. “We don’t even have gas masks at this point.”
Security for the convention is a multi-agency endeavor that involves officers from police departments across the state and country, the Secret Service, and others. Loomis claims “dozens of cities” have “prohibited hundreds of officers from coming here to help” because of inadequate resources.
Loomis’ most recent criticisms came this week, when Cleveland councilman Mike Polensek commented during a convention meeting Wednesday about a picture posted online that shows a very heavy Cleveland police officer struggling to fit into his riot gear, WJW reports.
“I saw this same picture that everyone else saw with the 300-pounder holding a vest. Ok now, um, I don’t know how a 300-pounder is on the Cleveland Police Department, quite frankly, but that is something for you folks to figure out,” Polensek told police chief Calvin Williams at the meeting. “I thought it was very embarrassing and sent a bad message.”
The remarks prompted Loomis to blast the councilman and the city in a public letter.
“As you should know, our members range greatly in size, stature, and body types. We have a 6’7″, 270 lb. former pro football player that has NO CHANCE of receiving riot gear that will fit him,” Loomis wrote. “The officer you publicly maligned is a decorated and senior police officer that has devoted his life to this city. You are being sold a bill of goods and you are buying it.”
Call your counterparts in Philadelphia to see where they are at compared to us before blindly accepting the word of appointed folks that will ultimately be responsible for their planning failures.
Philadelphia has had ALL their gear for the last 7 months and have been steadily training to help prepare for the possibility of a worst case scenario….That type of leadership is in the best interest of the Philadelphia Police officers, citizens, and protesters alike. The smoke and mirrors leadership we have unfortunately grown far to (sic) accustomed to in this city is going to fail us all.
WKYC reports police will not use tear gas to control the expected 100,000 protesters at the convention, and will instead rely on smoke devices. Police also described the police department’s radio system as “unstable.”
But city and federal law enforcement officials at the Wednesday meeting assured council members the convention will go smoothly, and that security forces will be ready by July.
“We ordered 300 bicycles, we have 300 bicycles in, ready to go,” Williams said. “We have at least 1,000 sets of person protective equipment in.”
“I think we are on track to reach our goal for the number we set months ago,” he said of recruiting officers and departments to assist at the convention. “That number is in the thousands. I’m not going to give you an exact number, but it is in the thousands.”