Thursday, January 25, 2007

Security planning starts

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Meetings to plan the security for the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver have already started:

Security will be tight during the 4 day event and run up a tab of about $35 million. Most of that will be paid for by the federal government. "It's going to be a security shot that probably the city of Denver has not seen the likes of," said Bob Pence, former director of the FBI's Rocky Mountain office.

The money will not only be used to secure areas around the Pepsi Center and downtown Denver, but also to guard and protect the VIPs and politicians who will attend the convention.
Pence said SWAT teams, forensic experts and bomb sniffing dogs from around the country will come to Denver and do tactical practice sessions. They'll also clear anything that could be tempting to a terrorist like trash cans around the convention sites.

While convention organizers don't think Denver will see the same traffic problems that Boston did in 2004, Pence feels it is possible for major streets downtown, and even Interstate 25 to be closed to traffic at times during the convention. Thousands of officers will also be on patrol to keep protestors at a safe distant.
The Secret Service will be in charge of coordinating all of the security. The FBI and dozens of other federal, state and local agencies will also play key roles, including the Denver Police Department.
Closures of highways like Interstate 25 will not endear the Democrats to the locals, but looking at the geography, it's not clear I25 is really that close to the arena. We'll have to see how that plays out.


Matt Pizzuti said...

I drive down that stretch of I-25 pretty often, and it's really not that close to the Pepsi Center at all. It's a full half-mile away; there is a park, then a river, then an entire Six Flags amusement park, then two arena-lengths of parking lot between the Pepsi Center and I-25, and that's what stands in the way at the highway's closest point to the Pepsi Center.

I'm assuming the security plan is worried about some kind of vehicle-concealed bomb that could effect the arena from the highway. For that to happen, it would have to be on a -god forbid- nuclear scale, and would take out a chunk of the city the size of the central Downtown area. If that were the case, there is a lot more to worry about than just the threat to the DNC. I don't think it's likely to happen, or if the ability to conceal an explosive device on that scale in a vehicle even exists.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Speer Blvd., a majour thoroughfare through Downtown Denver, closed for a time. That street is only one arena-length away from the Pepsi Center and handles quite a bit of trafic. Auraria Parkway, another major street, runs even closer to the arena. If both of those roads are closed, I can't really think of any convenient detours to get Downtown from the interstate. To get to the Pepsi Center itself, on the other hand, would be easier because a Light Rail train route has a stop at the building.

I wonder what kind of permanent infrastructure would be installed in Denver with this huge amount of money as the best way to protect the DNC, and what would, therefore, benefit future potential conventions and events in the area. I'm sure it would be a long time before Denver got another DNC, but there are other serious conventions out there, like the RNC and others.

Matt said...

Matt P-
Great update, thanks. And if the convention is successful, and if the Dem candidate wins, and wins some Mountain states, they could easily come back to Denver in 2012. Carter wanted to repeat the '76 magic, so the convention went back to NY in 1980.

Matt Pizzuti said...

Hmm. I didn't think of that; I guess I was more tuned in to things like the Olympics or World's Fair that try to avoid somewhere they've been for several years after. I could see the Democrats coming back, though it's quite a stretch to hope for that at this point.