Over 100 police agencies are reportedly withdrawing from agreements to provide security at August’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
According to a report from Wisconsin AM radio station WTMJ (620), police agencies began to back out of their security agreements after a civilian oversight commission issued a new directive concerning the use of pepper spray and tear gas to subdue unruly crowds.
More than 100 police agencies back out of DNC security agreementshttps://t.co/55CfPWVuQf
— Jeffrey Lord (@realJeffreyLord) July 28, 2020
While continued fears about the spread of coronavirus meant that the convention was already converted to a mostly-virtual event, the extra security was added as a precaution in case protests became an issue outside the venue, WTMJ reported. (RELATED: Democratic National Convention Postponed Over Coronavirus)
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales was not clear how many officers were still planning to provide security to the 300 people who are expected to attend the event in person — and he did not name the agencies that had already announced plans to withdraw, per WTMJ.
Fond du Lac Police Chief William Lamb told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he expected more agencies to follow suit, adding that concerns about new restrictions on the use of chemical irritants had played a part in his own decision on the matter.
“We respect the Fire and Police Commission’s decision,” Lamb explained. “But in this particular case, we strongly disagree with the actions they’ve taken. We believe (that) in removing those tools, the use of chemical irritants or pepper spray, from the available resources that the law enforcement officers would have at their disposal if protests become non-peaceful would severely compromise the safety of the public and also the safety of the law enforcement officers who would be assigned to protect the DNC.”
West Allis Deputy Chief Robert Fletcher agreed, telling the Journal Sentinel, “Our concern is that in the event protests turn non-peaceful, such a policy would remove tools from officers that may otherwise be legal and justifiable to utilize in specific situations.”
The Madison Police Department also informed Milwaukee officials that officers could not be allotted for the convention, but officials there cited a strain on the department’s resources due to the coronavirus pandemic rather than tear gas restrictions.
The Democratic National Convention is expected to take place August 17-20 at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to be officially nominated during the convention.