An 11-year-old aspiring police officer walked up to an Ohio state trooper to chat on Thursday. This is an example of the positive interaction that many Cleveland residents have had with members of law enforcement from across the country in the past week.
“I learn about police officers from home,” said Chrishaun Butler. “I read books about them and I watch the news about them and I even watch television shows about them.”
The trooper, Shane Zehnder, 46, said Chrishaun came over while working at his family’s vending booth selling Donald Trump T-shirts and campaign buttons and started talking to him.
Zehnder, who was one of thousands of officers in Cleveland to assist throughout the Republican National Convention, said that things haven’t been too bad. Law enforcement personnel from 23 states were present.
“The community is why the police is here,” Zehnder said, gesturing to the people walking up and down the street. “We’ve been in town since Friday and the first couple days were basically moving in.”
While hundreds of protesters have demonstrated, police have largely prevented serious incidents.
Police have made just 23 arrests, 18 of which were the result of a flag-burning event Wednesday afternoon, according to police.
Chrishaun, who said he’s got his “whole life planned out” for him, said he knows the troopers were there to help make sure everyone was safe during the convention.
“You’re trying to protect people downtown because you know there will be a lot of commotion,” Chrishaun said. “I watch the news.”
“I’ve seen some crimes,” Chrishaun added between discussing his favorite basketball teams and his enjoyment of soccer with the trooper.
These exchanges between the community and law enforcement in Cleveland throughout the week were common.
From the time convention attendees arrived in town on Sunday, police offers were mingling with passers-by, even buying Skittles and M&Ms on the street from children.
Chrishaun, who said he is able to distinguish different police agencies by their uniforms, said he walked up to Zehnder after noticing that the trooper was wearing a gray uniform.
“I’m so glad that I met this trooper,” he said.
Waiss David Aramesh is a Penn State University journalism student covering the Republican National Convention for the Centre Daily Times.