With days to go before tens of thousands of people, including many demonstrators, descend on the city for the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia police and emergency-management leaders feel confident about being ready to welcome participants and protesters alike. “We are prepared to protect those wishing to express their opinions and exercise their rights, as we would during any event,” Lieutenant John Stanford, the spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department, told me a few days before five police officers were killed in Dallas during an otherwise peaceful demonstration. So I called him back afterwards: I wanted to know if anything was different now.
“There are no changes in regards to policing that we would be able to discuss,” he said, but he did add: “An event like this raises everyone’s attention and brings a different level of concern to any city.” Stanford explained, “There are discussions everyday across the country about how to police after the tragic death of five police officers, not just for the DNC.” Stanford emphasized that Philadelphia police are as prepared as they usual are for demonstrators: “Our officers have to do a job outside of protests, which is to protect everyone in this city.” I asked him if the prospect of copycats was a concern after the Dallas shootings. “Absolutely,” he said. “Concern about copycats after this and after any major incident is normal. Any of these incidents that happen each day, you always have a concern that there will be copycat incidents or copycat individuals.”