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Police planning credited with avoiding problems at Republican National Convention

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The 2012 Republican National Convention last week saw minimal arrests, no violence and fewer protesters, a marked contrast from past…

The 2012 Republican National Convention last week saw minimal arrests, no violence and fewer protesters, a marked contrast from past conventions. The Democratic convention is also starting off with few incidents.

Only two people, neither of whom were journalists, were arrested during the four-day convention, and there were no violent altercations. During the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minn., more than 800 people were arrested, including more than 40 journalists.

Tampa attorney Carol LoCicero said the convention ran smoothly due to foresight and preplanning. Many, including LoCicero, speculated that Tropical Storm Isaac kept the crowds at bay, though there was no proof of that assertion.

“Tampa’s law enforcement did a lot of training to prepare [for the convention],” LoCicero, of the law firm Thomas & LoCicero, said in an interview today. “Police exhibited a lot of patience, and the event was very well-organized.”

During the 2008 convention, tear gas and percussion grenades were used to dispel anti-war protesters during the at-times violent event, which included the arrest of radio host Amy Goodman and two Democracy Now! producers, a Think MTV blogger and a photographer for The Associated Press.

Tampa began planning for the 2012 convention two years ago using $50 million in federal security spending, according to the Tampa Bay Times. More than 3,500 law enforcement officials from 60 agencies and military personnel from the National Guard received special training on how to handle violent protesters. However, a combination of smaller crowds, peaceful protesters and the large law enforcement presence made the convention run smoothly. By the final day, officers were passing out food and water to peaceful protesters.

The Democratic National Convention began this week in Charlotte, N.C., and only four people have been arrested so far, none of whom are journalists. Speakers include San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, President Bill Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.

Related Reporters Committee resources:

· NM&L: Here we go again: journalists, police gear up for the 2012 political party conventions

· Police, Protesters and the Press