Charlotte, NC: 3,400 more officers for convention

AP News
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Posted: Sep 09, 2011 6:27 PM
Charlotte, NC: 3,400 more officers for convention

Charlotte officials plan to buttress the city's sizable police force with about 3,400 extra officers during the 2012 Democratic National Convention to help protect top politicians from across the country, most notably the president.

The additions from other agencies will help the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service provide security and crowd control for the quadrennial event the week of Sept. 3. North Carolina's largest city has about 1,750 officers of its own.

The convention will be held at Time Warner Cable Arena, an uptown sports venue. The Queen City has experience hosting large events that draw big crowds, such as the ACC basketball tournament and last year's national convention of the National Rifle Association.

But city spokeswoman Kim McMillan said the convention is the most complex because of the security needed. Besides President Obama and 35,000 other convention participants, tens of thousands more were expected to hit the streets to protest the event.

"This is our first convention of this magnitude," McMillan said.

Officials did not specify where the extra police would come from, but they would have to be sworn officers in North Carolina to arrest anyone.

City police are already monitoring far-left anarchists groups. Members of tea party groups are also planning a big turnout.

Democratic Party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in Charlotte last week for a kick-off event marking one year to go before the convention. She said party organizers are already working with Charlotte officials, including Democratic Mayor Anthony Foxx, to make sure the event is open and accessible.

She said protesters will be given their chance to be heard but without interfering with the participants.

The extra police and other added security for the convention are expected to cost about $50 million. The bill will be paid through a federal grant. A similar amount is expected to be spent for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., the week of Aug. 27.

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Associated Press writer Martha Waggoner contributed to this report.