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What DHS Does During a Political Convention

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions were designated National Security Special Events (NSSEs) by the Department of Homeland Security and, because of this special designation, were staffed by 2,600- 3,000 Homeland Security personnel, in conjunction with other federal agencies. Find descriptions of how the various offices assisted in convention security below:

Flowchart of the offices involved in protecting the conventions

Download "Incident Type: Political Convention" (209 KB JPG)

Leadership Components

Secretary     

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security reviews and tours the convention sites before each convention.
  • The Secretary receives daily updates and briefings of all component activity at the sites.

Operational Components

United States Secret Service (USSS)

  • USSS Public Affairs leads the communications for security related questions through the USSS Joint Information Center (JIC).
  • USSS leads the design and implementation of the operational security plan for both convention sites.
  • USSS implements a secure environment for the nominees, other dignitaries, event participants, and the general public who attend the conventions.
  • Should the need arise for a response to a tactical threat, the Secret Service is prepared to respond by employing a number of specialized units with unique expertise.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

  • For DHS-designated National Security Special Events (NSSEs), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents work in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and augments support for dignitary protection during elections leading up to the primary, as well as the presidential election.
  • HSI special agents travel on jump teams and provide dignitary protection, staff command centers, and provide security at venues, airports, and hotels.
  • HSI special agents provide additional security during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

  • CBP contributes agents to the security presence in support of the USSS.
  • CBP operates the largest law enforcement air force in the world, and is generally on hand to protect the skies over NSSEs.

United States Coast Guard (USCG)

  • Protects and patrols the waterways surrounding the conventions sites of both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
  • Implements security zones on the waterways and enforces where commercial and personal boats can and cannot travel.
  • USCG trains, and has ready, rapid response teams for any incident on the waterways near the convention sites.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

  • In accordance with their consequence management mission within the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA provides planning support to federal, state and local partners in preparation for political conventions.
  • As part of preparations, FEMA provides planning support to federal, state and local partners and stands ready to mobilize disaster response teams, capabilities and assets if requested.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

  • TSA assists the U.S. Secret Service in providing security screening of people and personal belongings at presidential conventions. Walk-through metal detectors are used to screen attendees, and personal belongings are visually screened to look for items that could be used as weapons.
  • TSA does not perform pat-downs at these events. If extra screening is required, the TSA officer will refer the individual to the Secret Service.
  • The officers who assist with campaign events are part of the National Deployment Force, and comprise 75 officers who volunteer and are hand selected from larger airports. There is no impact to airport operations.

Support Components

National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)

Federal Protective Service (FPS):

  • FPS patrols around nearby federal facilities, conducts explosive detection canine sweeps, installs additional security countermeasures, responds quickly to potential security threats, and shares ongoing intelligence with interagency law enforcement partners.
  • FPS coordinates closely with its federal, state, and local partners to achieve the common goal of keeping everyone safe during the conventions and ensuring the continued operation of federal facilities.

Office of Infrastructure Protection:

  • Protective Security Advisors support conventions at various response centers.
  • Leading up to the events, Protective Security Advisors (PSA) perform site visits, security vulnerability assessments, and image captures for critical infrastructure in the vicinity.
  • Sector Outreach and Programs Division (SOPD) perform active shooter preparedness training and conduct active shooter and drone attack exercises.
  • Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) assists with communication and coordination of information on regulated chemical facilities in the region; provides education, training, and preparedness action items for facility owners and operators; and staffs response centers to ensure real-time visibility for regulated facilities during the event.
  • The National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC) provides 24-hour integrated critical infrastructure situational awareness, information coordination and sharing, incident management, and decision support for IP leadership and field elements.

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO)

  • DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) supports state and local law enforcement and first responders with Mobile Detection Deployment Units.
  • Mobile Detection Deployment Units (MDDUs) act as “surge” assets for radiological and nuclear detection designed to supplement law enforcement and first responders’ existing radiological and nuclear detection and reporting capabilities.  The MDDUs include both fixed and mobile radiological and nuclear detection assets.

Office of Operations Coordination (OPS)

  • Supports the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) with coordination and information sharing prior to the event, including preparation of the Integrated Federal Support Overview, which provides a thumbnail sketch of federal support to the events.
  • Deploys staff to the USSS Multi-Agency Communications Center (MACC), which is stood up in support of the convention, to provide field-based situational awareness reporting and serve as an information conduit to the National Operations Center (NOC) and, if necessary, in the case of an incident, to the DHS Crisis Action Team and the Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • In coordination with the MACC, the NOC tracks the security of the convention and any incidents which may occur, and uses this information to provide a Common Operating Picture (COP), a near real-time visualization of matters which affect U.S. homeland security, domestically and abroad.
  • Relays information to DHS leadership, federal agencies, and state, local, territorial, and tribal agencies, as well as some private sector partners.

Office of Health Affairs (OHA)

  • Provides biological detection capabilities as part of the overall protective security mission.
  • The National Biosurveillance Integration Center provides targeted and increased monitoring of the venues and surrounding areas in the week leading up to the event, as well as the week after the event.
  • Employs a mobile cache of medical countermeasures for DHS and USSS employees, and USSS protectees and their spouses. DHS is poised to stand up a closed point of distribution for medical countermeasures in the event of a biological attack on the event.

Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A)

  • Provides intelligence support to the joint operations and command centers during conventions.
  • Ensures that intelligence and information flows between field-based staff and analysts based at DHS Headquarters.
  • Shares intelligence and information with the Intelligence Community.

Other Agencies Involved (outside of DHS):

  • 1,100 other federal government personnel were active in assisting and protecting the conventions.
Last Published Date: April 13, 2021

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