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Local police say no to GOP convention detail

By DAVID HUTTON The Press-News Published: July 15, 2016 10:00 AM
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Area police departments have declined Cleveland's request to send officers to help with the GOP convention in July, saying there are just too many questions to put their personnel in the middle of potential problems.

According to sources, Cleveland has declined to pay for workers' compensation insurance for out-of-town officers.

As a result, Magnolia Police Chief Jeff Hager said he declined an invitation to participate in convention police efforts.

"We were approached to offer some personnel for the convention," Hager said. "There were too many questions."

Hager said he made his decision, in part, because of concerns about paying for workers' compensation insurance and liability.

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"They just couldn't tell me who would be responsible," he said.

Security plans in Cleveland began to come under scrutiny as it became clear that billionaire businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump would be the party's nominee, much to the dismay of many in the party's establishment.

Trump's controversial statements have attracted impassioned supporters and protesters, resulting in some scuffles at his large rallies. Groups both supporting and opposing Trump are planning to stage rallies and protests during the GOP convention.

Hager said the nominee did not play a factor in his decision.

"It just came down to liability," he said. "It is a cost that we cannot afford."

Hager also noted that he's learned that other departments in Stark County also have declined requests for assistance.

In a PowerPoint presentation posted on Cleveland.com, the city of Cleveland has promised a coalition of about 500 local police officers and 2,500 to 2,700 officers from elsewhere around the state and country.

A representative from the office of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson recently released a statement indicating the city will reach its goal of police staffing for the RNC.

The outside departments' responsibility to pay for workers' compensation insurance for their officers is an issue raised not only by Hager, but also from other departments in Stark County and across the state and country.

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