Trump Campaign “Chaos” Testing Police, Private Security, Secret Service


The emotions that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sparks among supporters and protesters, and his willingness to stoke anger among hecklers, are adding new levels of preparedness for local police and other security personnel tasked with protecting him and trying to maintain order at his campaign events, the Washington Post reports. The dynamic is another example of the way that the New York real estate magnate is upending the traditional rules of politics as he rises in the polls with tough talk and inflammatory rhetoric. While candidates typically ignore hecklers or stop speaking as security guards intervene, Trump has shouted from the stage for protesters to be removed and suggested after one Black Lives Matter heckler was punched and kicked at a rally in Alabama that “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

The latest melee came this week in Las Vegas, where a protester was taunted with shouts of “shoot him!” and “kick his ass!” as security guards detained him and police escorted him out. Much of the peacekeeping burden during rallies falls on private security guards and off-duty police hired by the campaign and event venue operators. Local police are often on duty outside events to monitor traffic and security issues in public places, but they are not responsible for removing protesters on private property. While the Secret Service began providing protection to Trump in November, agents are trained to intervene only if there is a direct threat to the candidate. As a result, if shoving or fighting breaks out, it is not always clear who is responsible for protecting the safety of the public, including protesters. “This is the challenge of the Trump campaign — it's a chaos campaign,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who served on the protective detail for first lady Michelle Obama. “The U.S. Secret Service cannot get sucked into the chaos.”

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