CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland’s police chief told the Associated Press Wednesday that while he’d prefer that people not openly carry firearms during this week’s Republican National Convention in the city, state law allows for it . Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams also said police will do everything possible to keep everyone safe.
“I’m bound to uphold the law in the state,” Chief Williams said during a press briefing ahead of the four-day convention, which starts Monday.
A sniper ambush that killed five police officers in Dallas last week and a ambush that killed three officers in Baton Rouge Sunday has heightened concerns for law enforcement around the country. It has also heightened concerns for those involved in providing security for the convention, which will feature New York real estate mogul and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Williams said the Dallas shooting was a “wake-up call” that prompted him to tweak some of his department’s tactics but he would not elaborate.
Cleveland has included water and pellet guns on its list of prohibited items within the convention’s 1.7-square-mile event zone, covering a large portion of downtown, but it can’t stop gun owners from carrying real firearms. But no guns are allowed within the security perimeter that surrounds the convention venue, Quicken Loans Arena, and is controlled by the U.S. Secret Service.
Williams and Democratic Mayor Frank Jackson said city police have dealt with other events at which people have openly carried firearms.
An estimated 50,000 people are expected to travel to Cleveland for the convention. Since it became clear that Trump had secured enough delegates to win the nomination, there have been concerns about the potential for violent clashes between his supporters and groups in opposition during the convention.
Williams said, “We’ll make sure people stay within the parameters of what is allowed and what is not.”