Graham Kilmer

RNC Prep Includes Maritime Security Planning, Training

Local coast guard station hosts exercise gaming out security threats for Republican National Convention.

By - May 23rd, 2024 11:55 am

U.S. Coast Guard boats at Station Milwaukee. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Preparations for the Republican National Convention (RNC) continue across Milwaukee. On Thursday, the local U.S. Coast Guard Station prepared for its role in securing the downtown security zone.

Coast Guard officials from Station Milwaukee, 2420 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr.. worked with law enforcement officials to game out potential maritime security threats and how they might jointly respond.

The training event is called a “tabletop exercise.”

What that means is, it’s kind of the walking before the run,” said Lt. Phillip Gurtler. “We’ve got a list of scenarios, we have all our partners together, we put them in a room and we say, ‘Hey, if X happens, how are we responding? If Y happens, how are we responding?'”

At the table were representatives of the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, Milwaukee Fire Department and the Secret Service, as well as other agencies.

Any time there is a major event in Milwaukee the local coast guard station runs a similar exercise, Gurtler said. And as a federal agency, it naturally is being looped in for a major event like the RNC, which is formally a National Special Security Event.

Law enforcement and public safety agencies are creating what they call a “security zone” around the event. The specific boundaries of the zone and its multiple layers have not been finalized, Gurtler said, but they will include portions of the Milwaukee River. That’s where the Coast Guard and marine units from local law enforcement come into play.

“Our mission, our goal: Keep, firstly, the public safe; keep the waterways safe; keep the events safe,” Gurtler said. “That is our goal. That is our job. That’s what we’re focused on.”

There is one thing not expected to be present on the Milwaukee River during the convention: privately-owned boats.

Secret Service officials confirmed Thursday there will be some restrictions, but commercial operators have already publicly said they have been privately told they won’t be able to operate river cruises during the event.

A February reveal of a broad security zone included most of Westown and extended east across the river to N. Water Street. Some level of access restrictions are expected for the “soft zone,” but a smaller “hard zone” around Fiserv Forum and other venues will require a credential to access.

Coast Guard Station Milwaukee covers Lake Michigan from Port Washington south to northern Racine County. The station’s mission includes search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, boating safety, and security for special marine events. The station is also the headquarters of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, which includes 21 stations covering 1,638 miles of shoreline across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

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Categories: Politics, Public Safety

One thought on “RNC Prep Includes Maritime Security Planning, Training”

  1. Marty Ellenbecker says:

    It shouldn’t cost too much.
    Liberals don’t have a Navy.

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