RNC 2024 security zone revealed, Chicago Secret Service handling security for both conventions

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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Security zones in place for Republican National Convention in Milwaukee
Work is well underway transforming the home of the Milwaukee Bucks into the house where Republicans will formally nominate Donald Trump for president. Again.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The scope of two security zones enforced by the Secret Security and Milwaukee police outside the Republican National Convention at the Fiserv Center in July were revealed Friday.

Protesters have already said they will challenge them.

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Work is well underway transforming the home of the Milwaukee Bucks into the house where Republicans will formally nominate Donald Trump for president. Again.

Outside the convention center, a vehicle screening perimeter will stretch approximately 10 blocks long and six blocks wide. Black circles on a map denote checkpoints.

A smaller red zone is restricted to credentialed people attending the convention.

"We've been monitoring intelligence, any intelligence related to the RNC threats to the RNC, what that might look like both from leading up to and during the event. We do that both prior and in real time. We have no articulated threats," said Michael Hensle, FBI special agent in charge in Milwaukee.

Authorities have established 2 parks relatively close to the convention as designated areas outside the security zones for demonstrators to gather and make their speeches. A protest march route covers several blocks around the second one.

A portion of the Milwaukee River will also be closed to boat traffic.

A coalition of protests groups say the restrictions are unacceptable.

"We've told the city from the start that, you know, we're gonna be on the streets, no matter if you say yes or no. So they're well aware of this. We've also brought to their attention that, you know, if we don't get a permit for these routes, it increases the chance of a police interaction and that's exactly what we're trying to avoid," said Omar Flores, spokesperson for March on RNC 2024.

"We have been busy preparing for any possible scenario, including planned, and pop up demonstration," said Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle.

And police say while their goal is to be invisible, they also have plans in place for mass arrests if protesters get out of hand.

"So the expectation is express yourself. This is what our Constitution is based on. But we will not tolerate anything beyond that particular type activity, because this is our city, and we're proud of it," said Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman.

The convention is now just 23 days away and while Republicans will be concerned about safety outside their focus will be on what happens here inside as they look ahead to November.

Chicago Secret Service office handling security for both RNC and DNC

One Secret Service office in Chicago is responsible for securing both the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention and no stone is left unturned -- from large-scale security measures to making sure residents in Chicago and Milwaukee aren't missing trash pickup.

The Secret Service Chicago Field Office is responsible for the entire states of Illinois, Wisconsin, the Quad Cities portion of Iowa and the northern part of Indiana, a "huge land mass" according to the Deputy Special Agent in Charge Derek Mayer, who spoke with ABC News in an exclusive interview.

By law, once a National Special Security Event (NSSE) has been established by the secretary of homeland security, the Secret Service becomes the coordinator of the event. Other NSSE's include the presidential inauguration and the State of the Union. There will be five NSSE's this year, one of the busiest.

"It's unprecedented that a field office has had two NSSE events this close that were both conventions," he said.

Mayer said the office has fewer than 100 agents, and most agents are working to help secure both conventions in which they've been planning for it since last April.

"In our world, security comes first, but we also we don't want a disruption to the public," he said. "We want everybody to still be able to live their daily lives while we still secure events."

Part of that is working with the Postal Service, trash pickup services and package delivery services to ensure residents are still able to live normally.

"One thing that we have been doing the last several months is public outreach, community outreach, to make sure that the business owners and the public are well informed about what our expectations are and what their expectations are to us," he said. "So we can avoid as many disruptions as possible"

Mayer said the office has been working with state and local police department including the Milwaukee and Chicago Police Departments, to help secure the Conventions.

In addition to security preparations for the conventions, the Chicago field office has been busy with everyday tasks such as protecee visits and investigating cyber and financial crimes.

"We're a very active investigative office, one of the most active in the United States," he said. "We do we open over 100 investigative cases a year. These cases include counterfeit cyber, financial crime, and other types of financial crimes."

The office also does protective intelligence, meaning every threat made to the current or former president and first lady has to be investigated, if they are in their coverage area.

Mayer said the visits from protecees have already doubled since last year.

"We do have protectee visits and Wisconsin is a battleground state," he said. "So, we are consistently getting protected visits there. So, last year, 2023 Chicago field office had over 80 protected visits. Obviously, we're going to crush that in 2024."

ABC News contributed to this report