Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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COs called up for RNC

St. Paul – The city of St. Paul will experience an influx of
political figures, activists, media, and security workers during
the first week of September, when the Republican National
Convention comes to town.

Among those additional law enforcement personnel will be members
of the DNR’s Enforcement Division – conservation officers from the
metro and around the state who will join the ranks of officers from
towns, counties, the State Patrol, and others from across the
state, a total of about 80 agencies.

The St. Paul Police Department earlier this month stated its
goal was 3,500 officers available during the convention, which is
expected to draw nearly 50,000 delegates and members of the media,
as well as thousands of protesters.

Mark Johanson, acting chief of the DNR’s Enforcement Division,
said several COs will spend at least part of the week in St. Paul.
The convention runs Sept. 1-4.

“Their duties are to assist the St. Paul Police Department,”
Johanson said.

Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner, said the department made
available up to 100 conservation officers; he expects about 40 to
50 will work security at the event.

Holsten said DNR participation at events where additional
security is required is on an “as-needed” basis. “There’s no
criteria (regarding) when to go and when not to go,” he said. “When
we have the commissioner of Public Safety looking for additional
security, we do what we can or cannot do.”

An example of a situation requiring the work of COs from outside
the immediate area, in duties outside the normal realm of
responsibility, is what occurred during recent flooding events,
Holsten said.

Several decades ago, game wardens were given full enforcement
capabilities by the state legislators, Holsten added, thus their
ability to provide aid at events such as the RNC.

Holsten said the DNR will be reimbursed for CO work at the
convention.

The RNC has been declared a “national special security event” by
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joining recent past
events like the February Academy Awards in Los Angeles and the
Super Bowl in Arizona, and the January State of the Union Address
in Washington, D.C.

For NSSEs, the U.S. Secret Service participates “in the
planning, coordination and implementation of security operations at
special events of national significance,” according to the Secret
Service Web site.

“The Secret Service assumes its mandated role as the lead agency
for the design and implementation of the operational security
plan,” the Service site states. “The Secret Service has developed a
core strategy to carry out its security operations, which relies
heavily on its established partnerships with law enforcement and
public safety officials at the local, state and federal levels.

“The goal of the cooperating agencies is to provide a safe and
secure environment for Secret Service protectees, other
dignitaries, the event participants and the general public.”

The St. Paul police have received a $50 million federal grant to
help with security operations during the convention, funding that
will help pay for extra staff and equipment, including a fleet of
bicycles and communications equipment like cell phones.

Still, some field conservation officers – who requested
anonymity – questioned the involvement of the state’s natural
resources officers in a political event such as the RNC – and the
vacancies that temporarily would be left in some parts of the state
as the bear-hunting season gets under way.

Johanson said the COs who’d be taking part in convention
security will be a mix of those who volunteered to do so, and some
who were chosen randomly. Holsten said Enforcement evaluated from
where it was most feasible to temporarily pull COs.

“We’re not loading up from any one area,” Johanson added.

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