LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend upon Cleveland later this month for the Republican National Convention.
Among them will be more than 100 troopers with the Michigan State Police.
MSP has been called to other states before — mostly in response to natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But this is the first time they will be assisting at a political convention. The unit is being brought in to help cover security and crowd control outside the Quicken Loans Arena.
Inspector James Shaw is part of the group heading to Ohio. He told 24 Hour News 8 Friday that it’s hard to know exactly what to expect.
“I think, as always, we try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Shaw told 24 Hour News 8 Friday.
It’s become clear over the past few months: presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has not only a passionate following — but also a passionate opposition.
Large anti-Trump groups have already received permits to protest at the RNC, and Trump supporters have pledged to show up too.
That’s why it’s fair to wonder if the scenes that have unfolded outside Trump rallies — where clashes between protesters and supporters have turned violent — will also happen in Cleveland.
“Our hope is that when they’re choosing to protest or demonstrate, they’re doing so in a peaceful manner. But our troopers are prepared to respond if there’s any type of violence or civil disorder,” Shaw said.
Also top of mind for police — as with any national event like this — is the possibility of a terrorist attack. Shaw expects that the Michigan State Police will be briefed by local authorities when they arrive.
But what about here at home?
Don’t expect fewer troopers on patrol.
Those heading to Ohio are purposefully being pulled from districts all across the state –- even the Upper Peninsula — so Shaw says you won’t see a difference in operations here.
“It gives us the ability to respond with a large group of troopers, while not negatively impacting the services we provide to the State of Michigan,” Shaw said.
But if you are heading to Cleveland — he has a word of advice.
“I think any message to people attending large events is, come, enjoy, but be safe. Make good decisions.”
The Republican National Convention is July 18-21.
MSP troopers are expected to arrive on July 16 for a seven-day deployment. Shaw said agencies from 12 different states will be there to assist local authorities.
As for cost — the state will be reimbursed under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact — a national state-to-state mutual aid system. The city of Cleveland requested the officers under EMAC.
MSP said some of their troopers will also be on motorcycles for motorcades and vehicle escorts.
The team is being led by Capt. David Roesler. He commands the agency’s Sixth District, which covers part of West Michigan.