APD officers talk about working RNC in Cleveland

The shooting of five Dallas law enforcement officers was still fresh on their minds and on the day before the Republican National Convention kicked off, three more officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"I think going into it there was a lot of kind of tense feelings on our part.  We wanted to prepare for the worst but hope for the best," said APD Assistant Chief Frank Dixon.

Dixon, Sgt. Robert Hawkins and Steve Deaton, Commander of the Special Response Team were among 93 APD officers helping out with the RNC in Cleveland.

"Every time you go to an event like this it's a global platform for every anarchist and group with an agenda to air their grievances in front of the world media," said Hawkins.

But as these officers report, it didn't turn out so bad.

"The people of Cleveland could not have been nicer.  I think all of us would agree, I have not been treated that well in the 21 years I've been a police officer," Hawkins said.

Dixon says at one point they worked a protest...both the Nation of Islam and Black Lives Matter were there.

"The three of us along with Commander Eveleth just started meeting the people...meeting them, shaking their hands, talking to them, carrying on conversations.  That protest went off without a hitch.  In fact, as they were breaking up, they were taking the time to come and talk to us, actually shake our hands, telling us how much they appreciated it," Dixon said.

Deaton says during the week they spent in Cleveland, their jobs were about the people, not the politics.

"Even if you don't believe in what this group is saying or doing or what their philosophy is, that's not supposed to matter to us and it doesn't matter to us they're a person, they have a right in America to speak their mind and they have a right to be safe from other people who oppose that thought," Deaton said.

But there were some issues.  Dixon says there were 23 arrests over the course of the convention.  Some of those were when a flag-burning demonstration became violent. 

The officers say they also found booby traps intended for law enforcement like bottles of urine and cinder blocks.  But thankfully, no major issues...and plenty of support for the blue.

"At one point there was a street almost similar to Sixth Street where every single person stood up and gave a standing ovation as police officers moved.  I think that was very moving to us...and let us know that 90% of people out in the public really do support their police officers," Dixon said.
 

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