The Republican National Convention (RNC) will be hosted in Cleveland from July 18-21, with secondary events planned for the days immediately leading up to and following. It’s no secret this will be a huge event for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, as it will bring the focus of the national and international media, millions of dollars from thousands of visitors and, of course, protestors. Regardless if your headquarters is five or 25 miles from downtown, there are added risks you should prepare for.
There have been various security meetings for the security industry as well as the business community alike over the last year, and the message is very clear - every business, not just businesses downtown, need to raise their security posture during this time. Most of the businesses downtown are either already working on plans to secure their places of work or have already made the necessary accommodations to best prepare them for the increased risk that will be present.
Here are some facts to consider that have been discussed as real possibilities by the FBI, Secret Service and local police:
The RNC will bring about 50,000 in media and event attendees alone. Expect the actual number of tourists to reach upwards of 100,000+ when you factor in Republican supporters and protestors.
These visitors will venture out to various restaurants and events and attend RNC-related activities throughout the area.
To fortify security around the Convention, Cleveland is looking to bring in 1,500 – 2,500 more law enforcement officers from around the country.
Many have questioned if that is enough as there is much more going on besides the convention.
Will the Cleveland law enforcement, or those police officers being brought in - who don’t normally deal with large events and their inherent problems - be properly trained in time?
Several suburbs are sending officers and other resources to assist downtown. This is a calculated risk each suburb makes, weighing the safety of their own city - some have already backed out.
Hotels and homes for the event have been rented out as far as Toledo, Mentor, Medina and other areas heading south. This is not just a Cleveland event.
Thousands more people means everything gets more crowded, especially transportation. The highways, ‘Ubers’/taxis and RTA will all be experiencing increased use.
A threat to your business doesn’t necessarily come from violence, but rather the availability of your workforce or customers, and their ability to get to your place of business.
With any national event, there will be demonstrations. Anti-Donald Trump groups, Resist 2016 and Black Lives Matters have already planned rallies. While the peaceful protests are well within their constitutional rights and should be respected as such, many demonstrations can turn disruptive.
What if a march shuts down a normally busy street or highway? What if a protest turns violent?
For those who cannot attend but want to make their voice heard around the country and around the globe, cyber-attacks are a real threat. Those who supply the convention, government or military may see an uptick in attacks during this period in an effort to disrupt the convention electronically.
The many risks associated with an event like this range from congested streets to acts of terrorism. Taking all the possibilities into consideration before the RNC is the best way to be prepared to handle the unthinkable. Preparation is key. Plan now for how to respond to an incident. In the event of an incident escalating, be aware of simple things like who to contact, what your priorities are and strategies to minimize the financial effect on your business. Stay alert, keep up to date with what is taking place during the week and always be planning on how you will respond in the event of a threat unfolding.