By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Security was one of three main selling points, other than logistics and financing, in Philadelphia’s successful bid to land the Democratic National Convention in July of 2016.
During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, more than 400 arrests were made, most of which happened the second night of the event, when protesters ran through city streets.
“But by and large, the demonstrations were peaceful.”
While we deal with wicked cold temperatures, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney spoke with us while putting up with a sand storm, in the Kingdom of Bahrain, where he is consulting these days on police training.
“Except for 1968 in Chicago, the Democratic conventions appear to draw less venomous protesters than do the Republican conventions. The RNC, which is being held in Cleveland, will have its own problems.”
Obviously, the 2000 RNC in Philly was pre-9/11.
“Terrorism becomes a critical factor as you plan for these events. It’s an opportunity for some lone wolf or terrorist cell to exploit the publicity that a political convention brings to the table.”
Timoney also notes that protesters are up to speed on recording virtually every aspect of a demonstration, especially when arrests are made, which he says often change perceptions, even if they are not well grounded.
“If an arrest is being affected, and the person being arrested resists, that is going to look ugly on cameras. There is no nice way of placing someone under arrest who doesn’t want to go along and is physically resisting.”
Timoney says the ability of plainclothes officers in the Civil Affairs Unit to de-escalate tensions, and the visibility and maneuverability of the bike patrols in Philly are what he describes as ‘second to none.'”
Timoney has nothing but praise for Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s leadership in planning and carrying out big events.
After rising through the ranks of the New York City Police Department, Timoney served as Philadelphia’s Police Commissioner for four years, then he led Miami police for seven years. He has been consulting in Bahrain since 2011.