Charlotte's chief of police has assigned three officers - including Deputy Chief Harold Medlock - to focus all of their time on preparation for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Lieutenant Matthew Murray from the Denver Police Department says three officers focusing full-time for a year in advance of the 2008 Democratic convention is "actually pretty minimal." Denver had five officers on the effort. "It's just a gigantic event," says Murray, who is aid to the police chief in Denver, where Democrats held their 2008 national convention. Murray says CMPD is navigating a tangled web of local, state and federal agencies that will share responsibility for keeping the peace and ensuring the safety of high-profile politicians during the convention.
Denver police had to purchase new weapons and technology - including surveillance cameras and riot gear - to handle anticipated crowds. Policies had to be clarified. Thousands of Denver police - and officers on loan from other cities and counties - had to be trained on the new equipment and policies. Murray says Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's reputation will be at stake, whether the officer involved in a convention incident is local or not.
"They're gonna blame Charlotte," says Murray. "So there has to be a real clear understanding of how things are gonna go, what's okay here and what's not." Denver got a $50 million federal grant to provide security for the 2008 DNC. Charlotte officials expect a similar grant.
The City Council has already approved nearly $600,000 to renovate CMPD's uptown headquarters. Some 35,000 attendees and media are expected to participate in the 2012 DNC Convention, but Murray says the additional thousands who come to protest could pose the greatest challenge to CMPD. "This is groups of anarchists who move in, live in your parks and their entire purpose is to subvert what you're doing," says Murray.
Ultimately, Murray says Denver had no felony arrests and just 154 misdemeanor arrests during the 2008 convention. For that, he gives credit to the year several Denver officers spent focusing full-time on convention preparation and says CMPD is wise to be doing the same.