The Bucks County Major Incident Response Team (MIRT) is in standby mode for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia until a situation becomes too big for Philadelphia to handle on its own.
As of Thursday evening, the convention has mostly been quiet for Bucks County police, said George McClay, police chief in Morrisville and commander of the Bucks County MIRT.
The team, which is made up from police all over the county, was only called in once on Wednesday night when protesters attempted to climb the fence and gain access to the convention’s secure area. Although they were called, the Philadelphia police had a strong handle on the events and quickly got things back in order, according to McClay.
“We’re here as a backup to Philadelphia in terms of field force,” McClay said. McClay used the recently quashed example of protesters trying to come over the fence on Wednesday night to give an idea of when the response team may be needed.
The Bucks County MIRT brought 42 emergency responders from the county, representing between 12 and 13 departments, McClay said. The force contains 38 police officers and four medics.
According to McClay, the practice of staying in standby until they are needed is important for the effect of the response team. “We stay hidden , we stay hidden, but when we do show up, we show up in force,” he said.
The last big potential moment for protest will come Thursday night before Hillary Clinton’s speech. As of Thursday afternoon, there were rumblings that angry Bernie Sanders supporters were planning to gather outside the security fence to make their opposition to Clinton heard.
“The rain is our biggest friend. If we get a storm like we are supposed to, we should be fine,” McClay said.
Even if the rain doesn’t keep the protesters away, the Bucks County MIRT would be available to keep protesters from wreaking too much havoc.
Aside from MIRT members, Bensalem, Newtown Township and Warrington officers have been spotted around the city working with traffic control, security details and other duties. A Philadelphia police official said some departments from the suburbs have sent officers to assist with special needs.
McClay has been the commander of the Bucks County MIRT for about six months. Before coming to Morrisville in 2014, he was the MIRT commander in Philadelphia.
The response team will be fully reimbursed for the operation by the city of Philadelphia after all is said and done.