FORT WORTH (CBS.DFW.COM) - The planners for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte scoured America for an elite force of police officers.
Officers who can move quickly, work well together and harness their bicycles for crowd control in the most secure of national events.
“They have different designations for these type of events and this is the highest designation, much like the Superbowl,” said Captain Daniel Humphries who heads the Fort Worth Police Department bicycle division and is also in charge of Central Division downtown where they patrol.
23 Fort Worth bike officers will deploy to the convention. They will likely be joined by other elite units from Denver — which hosted the 2008 DNC – and Chicago — which hosted a G8 summit. Fort Worth’s experience comes from a different high security event.
“From the extended training we had for the Superbowl, they recommended us and they contacted us and that’s sort of how the ball started rolling,” Humphries said.
But extreme winter weather and the fact Fort Worth was host to the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose fans had little cause to celebrate the outcome of the game, the bicycle officers did not use their weeks of extensive training to their fullest.
“Except for a couple of occasions, we didn’t have as large a crowd as expected,” Humphries said. “So, they’ll get to deploy some of these skills for the people who will be coming out for the democratic national convention and pick up more skills.”
Since the Superbowl, the Fort Worth bicycle unit has gained the attention of other agencies by training other departments, including instructors for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Using federal grants, Charlotte will pay not just for the deployment, but also to help offset the cost of hiring officers to pick up the downtown patrols in the bike officers’ absence.
How big an honor is the selection? One officer is putting off his planned retirement in August to attend.
“They’re very excited,” Humphries said. “They’re very anxious to do it. I’m very proud.”
The officers will be in Charlotte for the entire first week of September.