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On foot, bike and bus at the RNC

More than a dozen of Woodbury's finest put in some extra hours last week outside of their normal jurisdiction.

For seven days in a row, a group of Woodbury police officers worked at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul along with more than 3,000 other law enforcement officials from around the metro area and the country.

Woodbury's contingent was just one of dozens of municipal police departments that contributed officers to the event, which officially ran from Sept. 1-4.

Police presence at the event was paid for by the Republican National Convention Committee, per a joint powers agreement the Woodbury Public Safety Department signed earlier this summer.

Woodbury police duties at the RNC ranged from undercover patrol, providing security on delegate buses to bike patrol.

Woodbury Police Capt. Steve Wills, who coordinated the scheduling for the activities, said the event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for officers who participated.

"It really was a great experience for the officers, especially the ones who put in all the hours of training for the event. They learned some very valuable skills."

Many miles on bike

Five Woodbury police officers became bike patrol during the event. The officers trained for the event throughout the summer and were given bikes paid for by the RNC Committee to use for the event.

Wills said the officer began their 12-hour shifts the Friday before the convention began when they rode with several dozens of other bike patrol officers at a Critical Mass ride from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

Critical Mass is an informal organization of bicyclists that protest by riding en masse through city streets, often blocking motor vehicle traffic.

"I think with the Critical Mass ride and the first weekend before the convention, our officers said they easily logged 100 miles on their bikes," Wills said.

For the rest of the convention, the bike patrol officers used their two-wheeled transportation to monitor downtown St. Paul. They also were active in monitoring protests near the downtown area, Wills said.

"With so many people concentrated in one area, a bicycle becomes a great tool for being able to navigate though crowds and traffic," Wills said.

"Their goal was to help make it a safe event for everybody, and they did a good job of keeping crowds moving and establishing a presence.

Two Woodbury special investigators participated in a counter intelligence effort by a collaboration of law enforcement officials to gather intelligence of any information on criminal acts that were being planned around the event, Wills said.

"They were in plain clothes, and they were there around some of the large crowds to see if they could pick up on anything," Wills said "They would then report it to other officers to give them a heads up."

No problems back home

Wills said the efforts at the RNC did not have much of an effect on the available patrol staff in Woodbury, other than some officers picking up a few extra shifts.

'We had no problems staffing our regular duties here in the city," Wills said.

Wills said after the long week, officers were allowed some time off to rest. He said the department plans to debrief each officer to see how their RNC experience can contribute to the Woodbury Public Safety Department.

"They're all pretty tired right now, but I think they're glad they did it," Wills said. Any time you have your officers working with other officers from other agencies and they're working towards a common goal, it's a great learning and networking experience."