AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thousands of Texans will go to Cleveland for the GOP convention later this summer including around 90 Austin police officers. Cleveland police requested 2,000 additional officers from all around the country to help out with crowd control.
It’s been more than 50 years since crowds chanted “The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching” in Chicago. The turbulent Sixties boiled over into violence at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Many worry history will repeat itself in Cleveland this year at the GOP convention. Cleveland police expect thousands of protesters to descend on the city, following the GOP nominee, Donald Trump.
“So there’s an expectation that… there may be problems,” said Commander Steve Deaton, who oversees Austin’s special response team, 120 volunteer officers deployed in crowd control situations. Ninety of them volunteered to go to what could be a rowdy area in a far away state.
“That’s why I’m going. That’s why management is going, because we want to make sure our guys are treated right and that everything goes according to plan,” said Commander Deaton.
But not everyone is on board. The Austin Police Association says at a time they believe APD could use 150 additional officers, top brass shouldn’t send 90 officers away from the streets of Austin.
“We know that that’s a concern. So we’ve had a chance to plan to make sure we have officers who can cover the shifts of the officers that are on patrol,” said Deaton.
The commander says this is the rare chance they get to use their skills in real world situations and that experience will make Austin streets safer once they return.
So far, Philadelphia has not put out a request for additional officers for the Democratic National Convention.
It’s important to note Austin taxpayers will not foot any of the bill for their trip. The city of Cleveland was awarded a $50 million grant for security during the convention. APD says everything from flights, to hotels and paychecks will be reimbursed by Cleveland police.
This is not the first time dozens of officers have traveled long distances for work during big events. Back in January of 2013, 41 Austin Police officers helped police the crowds attending President Obama’s second inauguration. The federal government covered the cost of their travel. Officers also traveled to the President’s first inauguration in 2009 and President Bush’s second in 2005.