Monday, September 10, 2012

Monroe: Police negotiated with protesters during DNC

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said he caught two hours of sleep most nights during the Democratic National Convention, taking naps on the couch of the his office at CMPD's uptown headquarters. 

After the final protest ended, Monroe, 55, says he hustled to Time Warner Cable arena to hear the final moments of President Barack Obama's acceptance speech.  

Monroe talked with the Observer about the department's handling of the convention -- and the hundreds of demonstrators who descended on the city last week. We wrote about Monroe's interactions with protesters on Saturday. 

Some quotes from the interview: 

The department has new resources: "When we went through identifying security-related resources that we were going to purchase, we were very mindful of trying to focus on those things that not only would help us in securing the convention, but would also be resources that we could use going forward, whether it's a camera system, whether it's a bicycle, whether it's the motorcycles that we were able to purchase." (The city received a $50 million federal grant that paid for the new equipment.) 

Monroe openly negotiated with protesters: "There were two things that we were very clear on. We clearly recognized their First Amendment right to demonstrate and we were looking to facilitate that whenever and however possible. And number two was that we weren't going to tolerate property damage or violence toward officers or others. So those were the two non-negotiating points. We made it clear that anything between that we were willing to have a discussion about.  

And there were a number of times when they wanted to go along a certain route and we would analyze that request. As long it didn't negatively affect either an event or a traffic pattern we were trying to maintain -- whether it was the delegate bus route or one of the dignitary escort routes -- we were willing to talk about it and make some kind of allowance. But we didn't want to come off as trying to hamper their ability to exercise their First Amendment rights."

Monroe slept on office couch, but managed to see part of Obama's speech:  "There were 24-hour-a-day events occurring that necessitated a response by a number of personnel.  I did take a couple naps on the couch, but I also had a place to stay nearby that allowed me to get at least two hours per night.  

After the last protest, I was able to get to the arena catch the last 15 minutes (of the president's speech)."  --Cleve R. Wootson Jr.