When snipers killed five police officers last Thursday during a Dallas protest, we started worrying about the Amherst officers planning to help during the Republican National Convention.
Patrolmen Michael Taliano and Jake Podroski were chosen to bolster law enforcement efforts in Cleveland during the convention, set to run from July 18 to 21. It is possible Sgt. Michael Murphy will also assist.
We called Amherst police chief Joseph Kucirek to see whether the violence in Dallas, national outcry over the deaths Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, or powder keg predictions for the RNC would keep his three officers from lending aid to Cleveland.
“I’d hate to see everyone start pulling back and see these protesters and this wave of violence change what we do,” he said.
It’s unlikely the Amherst trio will be anywhere near protest crowds expected to gather to rail against Republican policies.
Nor will they don riot gear, Kucirek said.
Instead, Taliano, Podroski, and Murphy will probably work on the fringes of the city, far outside the RNC security zone.
They were offered the chance to help based on their experience and level-headedness, Kucirek said. The chief views the Cleveland detail almost as on-the-job training.
In preparation, the Amherst officers have been involved in terrorism and bomb-recognition training.
Other Amherst officers are gearing up to handle spill-over effects of the convention.
Kucirek said he anticipates heightened tension throughout the region as political crusaders clash. Lorain County is expected to swell with thousands of visitors, with hotels and motels booked all the way out to Sandusky.
What does that mean for the city?
Well, police here will likely burn through overtime and time off will be heavily restricted during the RNC.
Officers plan to pay close attention to Rt. 2, which along with the Ohio Turnpike is expected to be heavy with travelers. Intelligence briefings with federal and state agencies are keeping police abreast of VIP traffic moving through the area.
Amherst cops must be prepared to mobilize a mobile field force if needed and have emergency response contingency plans in place.
Officers have also been brushing up on first aid and other skills, as well as making sure equipment is squared away and ready for use, Kucirek said.
“I think it’s going to be a very tense time. I don’t know if we’re going to be going on many single-person calls,” he said.
That stress built after Thursday’s sickening events in Texas. The violence led to a heavy atmosphere among Amherst officers as shifts started Friday.
Kucirek said police everywhere felt the pain of losing five brothers.
“They were attacked because of the color of their uniform, and it sounds like that’s the only reason,” he said of the officers who were killed. “We’re in that same boat.”
Kucirek took to social media channels to check up on two officers he knows from time spent at the FBI Academy in 2010 — one who serves in Dallas and another just outside the city. They were both OK.
“It’s sickening,” he said, angry at the violence. “I just wish somebody that’s leading our country on some level would talk to the population about compliance and start preaching about compliance with law enforcement. That would likely avoid many of these confrontations that are happening. No matter what law enforcement does, the perception to the protesters is that it was wrong without knowing the facts.”
Kucirek said he supports the right of protesters until they go too far. “You can protest all you want but don’t start throwing rocks,” he said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.