Congressional law enforcement officials predicted late last week that New York operations will run smoothly, despite expectations that thousands of protesters, including potential anarchists, will descend on the Republican National Convention.
“It should go off without a hitch,” Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said Friday.
Referring to the Democratic National Convention, where law enforcement officials reported only six convention-related arrests, Gainer added: “It should be as smooth as Boston.”
Law enforcement efforts for the New York convention and related activities, designated “National Special Security Events” by the Homeland Security Department, are being directed by the Secret Service, in conjunction with the 37,000-member New York Police Department and scores of other agencies, including the Capitol Police.
A Capitol Police spokesman declined to release statistics on the number of officers the department deployed to New York, but stated the force would be similar to the “protection and support” conducted in Boston.
The agency assigned its Dignitary Protection Division, which provides individual security details to Members of Congress, as well as officers in its K-9 unit and hazardous materials teams to the Boston event.
Lawmakers and their staffs have received periodic security briefings in the weeks leading up to the convention, though those meetings have not focused specifically on convention-related security, according to both Gainer and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle.
Although Gainer had earlier expressed concerns that protesters could potentially target Congressional lawmakers at their hotels, he stated Friday that focus has shifted.
“There’s no real specific threat information against Members up there, just the general rhetoric of the protesters,” Gainer said. “We really think our biggest concern up in New York is traffic tie-ups.”
Pickle also focused on the potential for gridlock, citing recent press reports that individual anarchists could attempt more violent protests: “You’re concerned about demonstrators not only from the standpoint of disruption to traffic and transportation … but also, you’re always concerned that demonstrators may inadvertently be used by people intent on creating harm or mischief.”