Baton Rouge puts Cleveland on heightened alert during the Republican convention

Cleveland police union wants weapons ban during RNC
Cleveland police union wants weapons ban during RNC

Against a backdrop of heightened concern spurred by a spate of recent shootings across the country, Cleveland is beefing up its security for this week's Republican National Convention.

Along with the city's spending of a special $50 million federal grant for convention-related security, businesses are shelling out hefty amounts of cash for private security firms, and the Cleveland police union has even taken the unusual step of asking for the suspension of open-carry gun laws in the city during the convention.

With about 50,000 people expected to descend on Cleveland for the GOP gathering and the nominating of Donald Trump, security concerns have played a prominent role in convention planning.

Following Sunday's shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which left three police officers dead, Steve Loomis of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association asked Ohio Gov. John Kasich to ban the open-carrying of guns for the week.

"This is not an attack on the Second Amendment. This is not an attack on the right to open carry," Loomis told NBC News. "We believe it is a reasonable request to protect the safety of our folks."

Kasich's office said the law could not be suspended.

However, public officials are actively taking other steps. The city has purchased extra supplies including 10,000 sets of extra plastic handcuffs and 2,000 sets of riot gear. The roughly 500 Cleveland police officers assigned to the convention will be assisted by 3,000 federal officers, and 2,000 nonfederal officers from out of state who are being sworn in to assist the Cleveland police.

In addition, 1,000 beds have been cleared in local jails and overflow locations for potential mass arrests, and 2,500 interlocking steel fences have been purchased for use downtown.

While open-carry gun laws will not be suspended across the city, they will be suspended inside the smaller security zones overseen by the U.S. Secret Service, including the convention arena itself.

In addition, a long list of items are prohibited in both the special security zones and larger event zones, including whole fruit and umbrellas.

The security concerns are due in part to the divisive nature of Trump, the Republican's presumptive nominee, whose rallies are often emotionally charged and have occasionally led to violence.

Along with party loyalists, thousands of protesters are expected in Cleveland. Organizers for permitted events told the city they estimate 11,300 demonstrators to show up for their respective rallies during the four-day convention. Several organizers did not provide numbers and many unpermitted demonstrations will also take place.

—NBC News' Tracy Connor, Jacob Rascon and Shaquille Brewster contributed to this report.