Personal Interaction Trumped Intimidation
During my week at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, OH I witnessed first-hand an unprecedented approach to security for a large event in the United States of America. Before the start of the RNC, the media outlets were bracing for violence and discord. What they got instead was much different; human interaction and respect. In fact, less than 30 people were arrested for the entire event!
4 Key Security Improvements
Looking back on what really worked in Cleveland during the RNC, I would think it is important to note these four aspects of security. The rest of the country can learn from what worked in Cleveland and move forward with a more beneficial proactive approach to keeping the peace in future events that include protesters.
#1 Real Cooperation and Collaboration Among Law Enforcement
The Cleveland PD worked cohesively with out of town officers from all over the U.S. as well as federal, state and local agencies. I did not witness any posturing or authority abuse. Agencies from various backgrounds and geographical areas came together to ensure the most peaceful experience for those present at the RNC last week.
#2 Law Enforcement Engaged on a Personal Level
I witnessed shaking hands, real conversation, and on occasion prayer between law enforcement officials and the protesters. By taking the time to engage as human beings instead of predefined roles in society (i.e. cop, protester), the mob mentality was never fueled and therefore never reared its ugly head in Cleveland, OH.
#3 Soft vs. Aggressive Barriers Were Utilized
Instead of cars, police vans and riot gear, the bulk of law enforcement were on bicycles. The use of bicycles was key, in my opinion because they were utilized as “soft” barriers between protest groups, eliminating the “large crowd mentality” that has so often caught fire and burned out of control in these types of situations.
#4 Cleveland Police Chief Literally Led the Troops
The Cleveland Chief of Police, Calvin Williams, was down among the people, front and center with law enforcement officers. I saw him personally engage with the protesters, calmly listening and explaining what they could and could not do in regard to the law. Calvin Williams led by example. This not only showed respect to the protesters, but also let the protesters see that the Chief of the Cleveland PD was a rational human being, not just an untouchable figure head only concerned with his agenda.
Learn From Us
My hope is that the rest of our country and other countries throughout the world can learn from how Cleveland, OH and all of the participating law enforcement officers acted and presented security for the 2016 RNC. Instead of pulling out the riot gear and stationing an intimidating wall of law enforcement, I saw a more humanistic approach to security; an approach that opened dialog between law enforcement and protest groups. As a direct result of the protesters being treated as valued citizens who had a right to be there, exercising their rights as American citizens, security officials could do their job without violent repercussions. In short there was engagement as human beings instead of authority figures and potential law breakers. In my opinion it not only worked, but worked extremely well!
SACS Consulting Knows Security
SACS Consulting, Inc., had the distinct honor to provide security for the following organizations during the 2016 RNC: CBS News, Dr. Ben Carson, MTV, BET, VH1, Nickelodeon and LOGO. If you need help with security, please give us a call at 330-255-1101 to speak with one of our security professionals today!