Cleveland’s police chief proclaimed his city prepared security-wise Sunday as tens of thousands of delegates, media, and protesters began arriving for the Republican National Convention.
Police Chief Calvin Williams told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that security officials are ready to deal with the prospect of protesters and convention attendees carrying guns outside the convention’s primary "secure zone."
People are allowed to have firearms in the secondary security area – called the "event zone"- and beyond because Ohio allows adults to openly carry guns.
“We plan to handle them the same way as we always have,” Williams said. “Of course, we’ve ramped that up a little as far as our technique and our tactics to handle them. But in this state, everyone has the right to open carry. And we want to make sure people do that safely."
But Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said his group is sending a letter to Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich urging him to restrict the state’s open carry laws during the convention.
“He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something -- I don't care if it's constitutional or not at this point," told CNN Sunday. “They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”
Kasich told CNN that “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.”
Absent a change, Loomis told the cable network that police will be “looking very, very hard at anyone who has an open carry.”
“I couldn't care less if it's legal or not,” Loomis told CNN. “We are constitutional law enforcement, we love the Constitution, support it and defend it, but you can't go into a crowded theater and scream fire. And that's exactly what they're doing by bringing those guns down there.”
Cleveland’s police chief also acknowledged Sunday that security plans have changed slightly in the wake of last week’s attack in Nice, France that killed 84 people.
"We’ve placed barriers or barricades at certain key streets and intersections around downtown neighborhood just to make sure that things like that transpired in Nice are thwarted here in Cleveland if they’re attempted. Or at least mitigated," Williams said. "Things that happen around the country and around the world do affect to some degree how we respond here in Cleveland."Wsaid "We’ve heard reports from different sources about everyone from anarchists, to black separatists, you know, just regular (Donald) Trump followers, anti-Trump followers."
“But we’re prepared for it all," he added.
Well, there’s always a challenge when firearms and the public kind of mesh together. But we’ve had open carry scenarios in this city before. And we’ve handled them
. Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams
Cleveland police and other law enforcement helping with security at the convention were busy Sunday patrolling a small anti-Donald Trump demonstration as it march through downtown Cleveland.
Monday, thousands of supporters of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee are expected to attend a rally in a Cleveland park sponsored by Citizens for Trump, an umbrella group that includes Bikers for Trump, Truckers for Trump, and other pro-Trump organizations.
A large “Dump Trump” rally is also scheduled for Monday close to the same time at a downtown mall area.