Florida sending 100 Highway Patrol troopers to GOP convention
Florida will dispatch 134 Highway Patrol employees, including 100 full-time state troopers, to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to help with crowd control and security.
The state confirms it approved a request by Ohio officials for help and will send 134 people, including 34 support staff, to the GOP event from July 18-21. The estimated cost to Florida taxpayers will be $611,000, according to Beth Frady of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, who noted that Florida will be reimbursed by Ohio for all expenses other than salaries.
Frady issued a subsequent clarification that all costs will be reimbursed -- including salaries and overtime -- and that Florida's participation is voluntary. She said 14 other states are also sending officers to Cleveland.
"This will have no effect on FHP operations," Frady said. She added that's because the troopers leaving Florida highways are evenly distributed throughout the state.
The Florida Highway Patrol has 1,974 full-time sworn employees, not all of whom are road patrol officers. The staffing of troopers in urban areas has been a long-standing concern for local law enforcement, such as Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who in 2013 called it "an ongoing problem."
Frady said the Cleveland-bound troopers are part of FHP's Mobile Field Force. They have received special training in preparation for hurricanes, civil disturbances and acts of terrorism. The unit's web page describes them as "Troopers ready for anything!"
Convention organizers are bracing for widespread protests at Quicken Loans Arena, the downtown arena that is home to the newly-crowned NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers and is the site for the planned coronation of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.
Some cities, including Cincinnati and Greensboro, N.C. have rejected requests to send officers to the convention, The New York Times reported.