The city of Cleveland is gearing up to host the 2016 Republican National Convention in July, and worries over what might go wrong are top of mind.
To shift some of that burden, the city is setting aside $1.5 million for the services of an insurance broker and a very specific type of coverage: law enforcement professional liability insurance.
Colloquially known as “protest insurance,” the policy covers potential lawsuits related to police conduct for the event, including mistreated protestors and resulting injuries.
“There’s such a huge range of things that can happen when you have that many people with so many different viewpoints together in a city,” Christine Link, executive director of the Ohio ACLU told the Huffington Post.
And that’s no exaggeration. In 2004, New York City played host to the GOP Convention and resulting protests ended in the arrests of 1,800 participants. Ten years later, the city came to an agreement with two groups of protestors who sued it, settling for a record $18 million.
Though obviously not as large as the Big Apple, Cleveland is expecting between 50,000 and 75,000 extra people in its downtown area during the upcoming convention. And with crowded quarters and passions running high, protests could get out of hand, police could respond inappropriately, and the city could be made open to civil rights violations.
There is something special about this year, too. With no GOP primary candidate yet securing enough delegates to clinch the nomination process, a contested convention is almost guaranteed. The presence of Donald Trump, whose controversial candidacy has continued to grab headlines, is also a point of potential contention.
Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig said that while police training is key to crowd control, proper coverage is also key.
“Nerves are on edge because of the possibility of a contested convention,” he explained to the Huffington Post.
“It could cause tempers to flare on the parts of various parties. Any good risk management program is now contemplating that possibility.”
Cleveland has already hired Aon to procure the policy, a spokesperson said, “to assist the City in identifying and procuring law enforcement professional liability and related insurance.”
The coverage will be paid for through a $50 million federal security grant.
St. Paul, which played host to the 2008 Republican convention, took out a $1.1 million policy from AIG
to cover law enforcement liability. Just $175,000 in settlements have been reported.