Workers prepare the stage of Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday. The convention starts on Monday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
CLEVELAND, July 17 (UPI) -- The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association wants Ohio's governor to suspend the state's open carry laws during this week's Republican National Convention.
Police union president Steve Loomis made the plea to Gov. John Kasich in wake of a shooting Sunday in Baton Rouge that killed three law enforcement officers and injured three others.
"We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something -- I don't care if it's constitutional or not at this point," Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, told CNN. "They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over."
Ohio state law allow licensed firearm owners to wear weapons in public. Except for a small "secure zone" inside and around the Quicken Loans Arena, residents, delegates and protesters are legally permitted to walk around the city with the weapons. That includes its 1.7-square mile regulated "event zone."
Kasich responded: "Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested."
He added, "The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt -- as we're doing in Ohio -- so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal," he said.
Loomis also said officers began ramping up inspections and oversight of anyone holstering a weapon entering the downtown area.
"We are going to be looking very, very hard at anyone who has an open carry," he said. "An AR-15, a shotgun, multiple handguns. It's irresponsible of those folks -- especially right now -- to be coming downtown with open carry AR's or anything else. I couldn't care less if it's legal or not. We are constitutional law enforcement, we love the Constitution, support it and defend it, but you can't go into a crowded theater and scream fire. And that's exactly what they're doing by bringing those guns down there."
The union also asked Police Chief Calvin Williams to have officers paired together on their patrols, especially outside the downtown security zones.
"We're going to be doing things differently [after today's attack]," Loomis said. "Right now, the chief of police thinks it's a good idea to have one officer without a car standing at a post in various intersections all around the city? Thirty blocks from downtown? I had a guy last night standing out there by himself without the benefit of protection of a police car. Or partner. That is absolute insanity to me. There is no reason for that. We are going to demand that the police chief -- at a minimum -- make sure that we have three officers working together, watching each other's backs."
The Cleveland Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.
At a press briefing earlier Sunday, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said police won't impede people's Second Amendment rights but said gun owners must be responsible.
The city of Cleveland has explicitly banned at least 72 kinds of weapons, gadgets and assorted hardware from the "event zone" but not guns. They include slingshots, sledgehammers, rockets, tennis balls, air rifles and pistols, axes, BB guns, fireworks, umbrellas with metal tips, mattresses, water guns, glass bottles, tents, sleeping bags, ice chests, light bulbs and hammers.