CLEVELAND (ABC NEWS) — The Cleveland police union is calling for a ban on open carry during the Republican National Convention in the wake of police being killed in Baton Rouge today and in Dallas earlier this month.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Stephen Loomis tells ABC News the association’s lawyers are drafting a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking for emergency executive action to ban open carry in Cleveland, if not all of Cuyahoga County, during the convention.
Loomis believes that the safety of Cleveland police officers is not being taken seriously because they are not in riot gear and are still allowed to do patrols by themselves rather than in pairs.
He expects the letter — making recommendations against the state’s open carry law — to be completed today.
“The lack of leadership at the state level has been deafening,” Loomis told ABC News.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office released a statement that raised questions over whether the governor has the power to enact such a ban on open carry.
“Law enforcement is a noble, essential calling, and we all grieve that we’ve again seen attacks on officers,” said the statement by the governor’s spokeswoman. “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested. The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt — as we’re doing in Ohio — so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal.”
Kasich also released a video on Twitter referring to the “terrible loss of life” in Baton Rouge.
“Let’s be clear: these kinds of vicious attacks on police officers will only serve to drive a wedge and destroy the very fabric of our society,” the governor said.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump posted a message on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, condemning the attack and calling for action.
“We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today. How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country? We demand law and order,” he said.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams said that the city is prepared, and has been aware of the concerns about the open carry laws. Guns will be banned inside the convention hall, but can be carried outside.
“I think even here in the state of Ohio, you don’t get comfortable with a civilian walking down the street with a weapon out,” Williams told ABC News. “But the officers are being briefed on our procedures, they’re being briefed on the state law that applies to open carry.”
He said the most important thing as it relates to open carry is awareness and to make sure “officers aren’t taken aback if they see that activity happening.”
He remained optimistic about how the police are prepared for the upcoming convention, where an estimated 50,000 people are expected to flood the Ohio city.
“It’s game time, we’re ready for it,” Williams said Sunday. “We have planned for anything and everything that could happen. We plan for everything, we treat everything the same unless things dictate that we have to devise other tactics.”