FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Cleveland is building up its security force ahead of next month’s Republican National Convention and the Fort Wayne Police Department is answering it’s call for help. FWPD is sending its Public Safety Response Team to help keep everything safe and calm at the event, which runs from July 18-21.
The PSRT is trained in protecting large gatherings and important people. They’re also able to respond to riots and other violent situations.
The team was assembled in 2015 and has been on stand-by ever since. PSRT commander, Captain Scott Berning, said It’s the team’s first official assignment.
“We could do all the simulated training we wanted to around here, but until you actually get into a real world environment where you’re dealing with a large gathering, we don’t have that experience yet,” he said.
According to Berning, the City of Cleveland is expecting 50,000 visitors for the convention. It’s also expecting at least 10,000 protesters.
“They’re not sure what they’re going to be getting into,” he said. “There’s been many groups that have already said they’re going to shut down the RNC.”
Berning said each of the 34 officers will take the following with them: plexiglass shield, helmet, baton, shin guards, leather gloves, gas mask and OC-vapor spray.
If things really get out of hand, Cleveland police will give them extra turtle gear for full-body protection. Berning said they may be able to bring that extra equipment back to Fort Wayne.
“This protective gear that we have is very good,” he said. “It would just be nice if we had even extra stuff.”
Berning said the experience will help them better serve the Summit City.
“We want to be able to make sure that everybody here in Fort Wayne gets equal treatment and if they do feel the need to protest something, they can do it safely,” he said.
Berning said the team will have two more training sessions before the convention.
“I don’t think the officers are scared at all,” he said. “I think they’re ready for this.They got the training they need.”
Berning will be traveling to Cleveland this Thursday to get more details on his team’s assignment.