Ray Kelly on convention security: No question groups are going there to cause trouble

After more than a year of planning, Cleveland and Philadelphia are ready to host the 2016 political conventions. Security and safety are top of mind for all involved, with 3,000 police officers dedicated to the events equipped with thousands of barricades, sets of riot gear, steel batons and much more.

“When something happens, how well will the authorities respond? You have to be flexible, you have to be ready to handle multiple events,” former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly said last week.

Kelly is joining SiriusXM Politics’ convention coverage with the kickoff of his special series, Vigilance, on SiriusXM POTUS (Ch. 124).

“There’s no question about it that groups are going there to cause trouble. We had the 2004 Republican Convention – we had 800,000 demonstrators in New York City – and some of them were clearly bent on causing mayhem. And those types of people, some of the same people, will be in Cleveland.”

Calling on his own experience, Kelly is realistic about the potential situation on the ground.

“There’s only about 500 Cleveland police officers dedicated to the convention, and there’s about 2,500 officers from other departments. That’s difficult to coordinate. It just is,” he said.

The convention centers and their immediate areas are under Secret Service security. Guns are prohibited within those zones, even in open-carry Ohio.

Competing rallies and demonstrations are planned in designated areas in both cities. More than 30 groups and 10,000 individuals are registered to protest in Cleveland.

Kelly expects more groups without permits are headed to Cleveland and Philadelphia.

“I think it’s been pretty well signaled by both cities that [police are] not going to be too interested in arresting people who are doing these pop-up demonstrations. They’re going to sort of tolerate them, even if they don’t have a permit,” Kelly anticipates.

“The permitted times are very narrow, so you’re going to see demonstrations I think in both cities that will be at places that are away from the convention site.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. spoke to Kelly about considerations and adjustments after the fatal shootings of five police officers in Dallas earlier this month.

“The temperature around the nation directed toward law enforcement from some people is pretty high,” Ross said.

“We have to anticipate actions that would be designed to not only disrupt but cause significant damage in the area.”

Click here for more details on SiriusXM’s convention coverage. For a free 30-day trial, check out siriusxm.com/freetrial/blog.

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