CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - When a city hosts any kind of political convention, security risks are a top concern and it’s no different for the Republican National Convention which is less than 10 months away.
Law enforcement agencies including CMPD, the Secret Service and the FBI all work together to ensure that citizens and visitors in Charlotte will remain safe no matter what during the RNC and the planning process takes months.
You might think that planning security this go around might be easier since Charlotte previously hosted a convention in 2012 but security officials say because Charlotte has grown so much, there are new challenges. The team leading security said the planning stages are in it’s infancy but the security perimeter in Uptown is expected to be larger and mentioned traffic changes and vehicle checks for people living and working in Uptown.
“Anybody that is coming to cause trouble and have any type of violent acts that are coming, we’re going to have a problem with them," said Joe Strong with the FBI.
“There will be thousands of officers like you saw in 2012. There will be plenty of us doing work and making sure we’re safe," said Chief Kerr Putney.
The security committee will also take advice from 23 other sub-committee’s made up of business owners in Uptown, medical staff and other citizens that can help the team decide on traffic patterns and other changes made in Uptown.
During the week-long convention, CMPD will help with resources and keeping the perimeter secure. The Secret Service is heading the overall plan. The FBI comes in to help with intelligence and analytic security, including anti-terrorism efforts.
The Secret Service representative, Bill Glady, said political conventions are automatically designated as National Special Security Events (NSSE), which means they get the full support of government programs for anti-terrorism efforts. The FBI will help monitor those possible issues.
“The FBI is not aware of any credible threat of violence against the RNC at this time," said Strong.
Security will also be monitored on the ground. The RNC is expecting 50,000 visitors for the RNC, including politicians and spectators. But the police department is also preparing for protesters to fill the streets.
“Our job is to make sure you get to freely express your first amendment rights,” said Chief Putney. “But also that you don’t cause harm to anybody else.”
“The city of Charlotte has seen amazing growth from 2012 and what will be 2020 so the topography of the Uptown area is different and will change some of the footprint in that area," said Bill Glady, who is running the operations, when asked about the security perimeter and how it will affect people living in Uptown.
That perimeter should be finalized and announced at the start of the summer of 2020 which they say is a similar timeline as the DNC.
It’s clear CMPD will be at the RNC in full force. But the question still lingers if Chief Putney’s retirement plan will affect him being chief at the time of the convention.
“I can tell you my intent is to do exactly what I said I wanted to do to support the city of Charlotte. I don’t want a disruption of leadership,” said Putney.
A representative for the State Treasurer’s office said there was no update on Chief Putney’s retirement plan that he could provide.