ST. PAUL, MINN. - At an undisclosed location outside of St. Paul, the press received a briefing on the security measures and communications center prepared to handle all range of security problems that might arise during next week's Republican National Convention.
The Multi Agency Communication Center is a huge platform set up with phones, computers, printers, and a large screen with multiple video inputs to monitor all the cameras set up around the Xcel Center. Seven law enforcement agencies will be joined by Verizon, Quest, and Sprint to coordinate all communications regarding law enforcement protection of the candidates, delegates and visitors.
On August 7th, the center held what is called a "table top" exercise where a potential scenario is laid out and all agencies must respond. Starting tomorrow afternoon, the center will be fully operational.
This type of multi-agency and private sector coordination began in 1998 and is used in all National Special Security events (NSSE). The Department of Homeland Security designates certain events - the Super Bowl, presidential inaugurations, conventions – as NSSEs.
Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, told reporters that they are prepared for all possible scenarios, ranging from a person trying to sneak past the metal detectors to enter the convention hall, to a "lone gunman," to a full-blown terrorist attack. Thousands of Secret Service agents are assigned to the convention and, in fact, many moved to Minnesota over a year ago to start preparing for this event.
In an interview with CBS News, St. Paul Police chief John Harrington said that he is most concerned about all the "moving parts" from traffic, to limos, to protestors.
"There are individuals out there who's mission is not to have their voices heard about a cause but rather to frighten people, to injure people and to damage property, and so I make sure that our officers are well prepared to take action because lawlessness is not going to be tolerated in St. Paul."
Harrington said that, for the most part, the protestors just want to have their voices heard and that his plan is to "work with the protestors" to allow that to happen. He even expressed concern over the media. "For every delegate, there is one of you."