Jan 14, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Press Conference on Inauguration Preparedness Transcript January 14
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine held a press conference on January 14, 2021 to discuss preparations for inauguration day due to a risk of violent protests. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Governor DeWine: (01:14)
Morning, everyone. Good morning. Mayor Ginther and I have called this press conference this morning to discuss the preparations for demonstrations that may occur in relationship to the inauguration of the president of the United States. We’re joined today by Columbus Police Chief, Thomas Quinlan. Chief, good morning.
Thomas Quinlan: (01:46)
Good morning, governor and thank you for having me.
Governor DeWine: (01:49)
Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it very, very much. We’re also joined today by Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent, Colonel Richard Fambro. Colonel, thank you very much.
Richard Fambro: (02:02)
Good morning, governor. Thank you for the opportunity.
Governor DeWine: (02:04)
Good to see you, sir. As well as Ohio National Guard Major General, John Harris. General, good morning, sir.
John Harris: (02:12)
Thank you, governor. Good morning.
Governor DeWine: (02:13)
Thank you for being with us. Our first amendment rights are sacred. We must always and will always respect the rights of peaceful protesters. However, I think all Americans were horrified by what we saw just a few days ago in our nation’s Capitol, where a mob attacked the Capitol, where individuals died as a result, and where really the constitution itself was under attack. We were horrified by what we saw. The sad truth is that there are people in our country who want to turn peaceful protests into opportunities for violence. These are violent people and their violence will not be tolerated in Ohio, and it will not be tolerated anywhere. Just as we respect and we’ll protect peaceful protestors, we will also just as vigorously resist violence, that violence will not be tolerated. So the Ohio State Highway Patrol will be out in force in Columbus. The Ohio National Guard will be out in force in Columbus. Our guard will be there to back up local law enforcement and to back up the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Both will have a significant presence in Columbus.
Governor DeWine: (04:20)
Also, both will be available for any place else where trouble might arise. We have a strong relationship with our mayors, as we demonstrated I think this past summer, and when the Patrol or the National Guard is needed to back up local police, they will be there and we will respond quickly. I have a proclamation to sign that officially mobilizes the guard to be in Columbus and to be anywhere else in the state that they are in fact needed. This is the proclamation that I am going to sign right now, and I will read a small portion of it. Now therefore, I, Mike DeWine, Governor of the state of Ohio, hereby authorizes as needed in state activity duty status those personnel and units of the Ohio National Guard as designated by the adjutant general there needed to assist the state and local authorities. I will now sign the document. I’ve done so now.
Governor DeWine: (05:56)
Further, at the request of our federal government, I’ve authorized the deployment of 500 more members of the Ohio National Guard, making a total of approximately 700 members of the National Guard that will be, and some are already, in the National Capital area in Washington D.C., or close by. We are, of course, part of a national effort. And our guard always is part of that national force. We have unique capabilities. We have special personnel and special equipment that has been specifically requested by the federal government for us to deploy to Washington, and we have responded and done so. Along with speaker Cupp and Senate president Huffman, we are announcing today that the state house will be closed this coming Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Further, I’m also ordering all state office buildings in downtown Columbus to be closed on these four days as well. State personnel will work from home or work from other assigned places.
Governor DeWine: (07:27)
Finally, this time I believe for us to come together as a country, as we always do after elections, is time for us to observe the peaceful transfer of power and to remind ourselves of what brings us together, binds us together, holds us together as Americans, our love for freedom, our love for liberty, our love for our constitution. And that is what we’ll celebrate in the days ahead. Let me now turn to Mayor Ginther. Mayor Ginther and I have done press conferences before in regard to the virus, in regard to other disturbances. So mayor, it’s good to be back with you, even this time if we are remote from each other, but I’ll turn it over to you. Thank you.
Mayor Ginther: (08:21)
Thank you, governor, and good morning. Good morning to General Harris, to Chief Quinlan, Colonel Fambro. Very much appreciate you all being with us in your incredible leadership during these trying times. Our nation is facing a great struggle right now after the violence at the Capitol last week and threats of armed protests across the country this weekend, and heading into the inauguration of president elect Biden. Those threats are being brought to our doorstep right here in Columbus to the steps of the state house. As I said last week, what we saw in the Capitol is not who we are as a country. It is unacceptable. It was a vile demonstration of the worst elements of our society that we cannot ignore and we must root out and guard against. Lest it be allowed to squelch the pursuit of equality and the common good that defines who we are as a people.
Mayor Ginther: (09:27)
In the coming days, we will not allow hate, violence and destruction to be part of our city. Our constitution gives everyone the right to protest peacefully. It does not give anyone the right to incite violence, harm, or intimidate others, or destroy property. Governor DeWine and I stand together on this. This is not a Democrat or Republican concern. This is not a partisan issue. It is our responsibility as Americans and elected leaders to protect the safety of our residents and defend city, stay a nation against those who seek to tear it down. Hate has no place in Columbus, Ohio, or these United States of America. We’re taking every measure together to assure the safety of our residents and protection of our institutions. That means activating the National Guard. That means close collaboration between the Columbus Division of Police, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Homeland Security, and the FBI.
Mayor Ginther: (10:46)
We can do our part to keep our city safe as well. What hate groups want is confrontation to give them up platform and to amplify their message. Let’s not give it to them. Avoid planned protests this weekend and leading up to the inauguration. Be aware of your surroundings and your situation. Leave if you do not feel safe. Seek help if you see something suspicious. If you see something, say something to make sure we protect our neighbors. And find peaceful ways to celebrate the lessons and life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who we celebrate birthday and honoring on Monday. As you all know, Governor DeWine and I have worked together closely over the last year on some of the most difficult issues our city and state have ever faced. Let me say it again. We stand together on this, protecting the safety and security of our city, our state, our residents, and those brave men and women who have answered the call to protect all of us. Thank you, governor.
Governor DeWine: (12:06)
Thank you, mayor. The mayor and I will now take questions.
Speaker 1: (12:11)
First question of the day is from [inaudible 00:12:13] at the Associated Press.
Speaker 2: (12:16)
Hi, governor. Hi, Mayor Ginther. Thanks for holding this today. I would like to just clarify how many specific national guards will be based in the state and available for Columbus or anywhere else, and how many you are reserving for Washington D.C.
Governor DeWine: (12:35)
Yeah. Let me go to General Harris. I would just say that my instructions to the general is that as many people as necessary, many members of the guard as necessary we will use. And I think the number that we are sending to D.C. is in the neighborhood of 700. But general, I’ll turn it over to you now.
John Harris: (13:03)
Yes, sir. Thank you. Thanks for the question. Well that’s correct governor. We’re sending just upwards of 700 to the National Capital region, and that’s some very specific capabilities, as the governor said. First are those security type forces that can augment the law enforcement there in the National Capital Region. So that’s just over… Well I won’t get into the number, but it’s two companies and a headquarters of specially trained folks that can help with the security of critical infrastructure there. Additionally, we’ve sent some communications personnel and equipment and they’ll be able to provide some redundancy for communication should that become necessary. So even in the most austere environments, they’ll be able to establish voice and data communications if necessary.
John Harris: (13:47)
And on top of that, we’ve sent a very specialized unit called our Homeland Response Force. And that unit has the capability to not only provide security, but also they do what’s called consequence management. So if there were a major event there, this unit can do very high level, high skilled search and rescue both from confined space as high angle, search and rescue. But also, they can do it in a chemical, biological nuclear environment. So this is a precaution that’s been requested by the folks that are in the National Capital Region and the governor’s directed that we send it. But I will tell you that we’re always measuring the information and the information drives our operations. So we’re doing risk management to ensure that what we have here in this state is what we need for the state.
John Harris: (14:36)
So as the governor said, he’s directed the mobilization of forces. What we’ve mobilized is our National Guard Response Force for missions here in the state right now, specifically for the Capitol. So I will say it’s upwards of 400 personnel that we will have in the National Capital Region. And we’ve provided some depth, and I won’t get into the specifics about that, but we have depth to respond to other places around the state also. And those forces will be able to do a number of missions. They can do security of critical infrastructure. They can do traffic control vehicle checkpoints to augment local law enforcement, if that becomes necessary. And if the worst case occurs and that those forces have to help with crowd control, they’re specifically trained and equipped to do that.
Governor DeWine: (15:23)
Speaker 1: (15:25)
Next question is from Geoff Redick at WSYX in Columbus.
Governor DeWine: (15:29)
Geoff Redick: (15:30)
Hello to you both. This is a question for the mayor. Mayor Ginther, after last spring and summer’s protests, the city put in place some level of ban on the use of tear gas and other chemical agents on crowds of peaceful protestors. Do those bans still exist in Columbus? Do they apply to the other forces who will be in Columbus this weekend? And do you worry about the appearance of uneven enforcement between Black Lives Matter protestors and these presidential supportive protestors?
Governor DeWine: (16:02)
… and these presidential supportive protestors.
Mayor Ginther: (16:05)
Well, I think I’ll let Chief Quinlan speak a little bit to the policy. The guidance that we have given him is that those chemical agents cannot be used on peaceful protestors. But once a protest has turned violent, once destruction of property or lives of protestors or officers is put at risk, those chemical agents can be used to disperse and control violent protests. But Chief Quinlan, do you want to speak any more to that? I think our approach to all protests will be consistent based on the policies and procedures of the Division Of Police. Chief.?
Chief Quinlan: (16:51)
Thank you, Mayor. You were very accurate. The division between the type of chemical irritants we use, CS, we’re not using. There’s another law enforcement application called OC spray that we do use for violent protestors. Again, it’s based not on a person’s beliefs or speech. It’s based on actions and activities. So those will be clearly defined for the rules of engagement for all officers down there, whether they are Columbus or other jurisdictions assisting. And we will be working under what’s called a unified command. So we will have control over who is deploying what irritant and when, and how we decontaminate after that. Those will all be steps in place.
Governor DeWine: (17:43)
Thank you. Thanks, Chief.
Speaker 3: (17:46)
Next question is from Kevin Landers of WBNS in Columbus.
Kevin Landers: (17:50)
Governor DeWine: (17:51)
Kevin Landers: (17:52)
Governor, by placing the National Guard on its highest level of alert, are you also approving the use of deadly force if needed? For businesses near the State House, should they be preparing to board up their store windows? And are you aware of any credible threats against President Elect Biden? Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (18:12)
Well, I’ll start with that and then I’ll send it over to General Harris. We are concerned about what happened to businesses. I know there are a lot of small businesses that were really hurt over the summer, and certainly we are very concerned about them. That is part of the reason … Number one, you protect life. Number two, you protect property. We protect state buildings, but we also, I know the unified force has concern about businesses as well. So let me refer as far as the force level to the protocol and what the order is in regard, let me go to General Harris for that.
John Harris: (19:01)
Yes, sir. We always, always ensure that our soldiers, our responders, our partners have the ability to defend themselves. So they will have that capability. But that’s of course the last resort. The most important things that we can do to avoid the use of deadly force is number one, we ensure that all of our members are not only aware of the rules on the use of force, but that they actually carry a pocket card and that we rehearse it. We put our leaders, we put our soldiers and our airmen through a number of scenarios, decision-making scenarios, so that they learn and instinctively use the minimum force necessary.
John Harris: (19:39)
And secondly, and this ties to the previous question, is we want to ensure that we give our soldiers, our airmen, our first responders, as many tools as we possibly can so that we don’t have to use deadly force. So the use of those irritants, while not desirable, is actually in some cases a safer course of action than the alternatives. So we put as much equipment, as many options in the hands of our personnel as we can so that we can keep the crowd safe, so that we can keep our service members safe and not have to respond with deadly force.
Governor DeWine: (20:15)
Speaker 3: (20:15)
Next question is from Jake Zuckerman at the Ohio Capital Journal.
Jake Zuckerman: (20:20)
Governor, just two quick questions here. One, is there any specific evidence that there will actually be some kind of demonstration at the Ohio Capitol this weekend? And two, the lockdown protests this summer, there was a heavily armed bunch of protests. The George Floyd protests, there was the same. When the networks called the election for Biden, there was a self identified militia at the Capitol. Just last week, there were brawls on the Capitol grounds. Everyone was watching DC, but there were literal fist fights at the Ohio Capitol. Why does it seem like there’s just this new found concern for security there when there’s been this armed and kind of huge holistic presence going on all this time?
Governor DeWine: (21:05)
Well, it’s not a new found concern for security. We’ve always had a concern for security. We also though have seen what happened at the nation’s capital, and we have seen that, and we also have other information, frankly, which I’m not going to talk about. So we have a heightened sense of concern, but we’ve always been concerned about security. Most focus is always on protecting human life.
Speaker 3: (21:37)
Next question is from Ben Schwartz with WCPO in Cincinnati.
Governor DeWine: (21:42)
Ben Schwartz: (21:43)
Hi Governor. Can you speak on open and concealed carry while on State House grounds? I believe it’s legal to carry a weapon on State House grounds. And I know I’ve seen plenty out during previous protests. But I’m just wondering if you see that as an issue at all and if you have reason to believe that there may be more people armed on this one than during previous ones.
Governor DeWine: (22:11)
The law in Ohio provides for open carry on the grounds. That would include the outside grounds of the State Capitol. Concealed carry for those who have a permit. So the law in Ohio does in fact apply. And that’s what the law is.
Speaker 3: (22:35)
Next question is from Jim Provance at the Toledo Blade.
Jim Provance: (22:39)
Hello again, Governor. So far, the discussion has been pretty much all about Columbus. You did mention that the National Guard would be available in other cities if necessary. Have we received any intelligence of probable or potential problems in other parts of the state?
Governor DeWine: (22:55)
Well, I’m not going to go into intelligence. That’s an area that we never talk about really. But look, we have a close relationship with the mayors throughout the state of Ohio. And when they perceive a problem and their chiefs perceive a problem and they need assistance, we will be there in regard to what they need.
Speaker 3: (23:23)
Next question is from Spencer Hickey at Hannah News Service.
Spencer Hickey: (23:28)
Thank you. I know you can’t go into operational details, but could you discuss some of the lessons learned from the events in the District of Columbia, as well as at the State House in late May of last year? That may be better answered by the General, the Chief, and the superintendent.
Governor DeWine: (23:48)
Right. I’ll let them answer. I’ll start, and I’ll let any of them who want to answer to do that. They’re certainly the experts. As a lay person, just looking at what happened at our nation’s capitol, it’s important to have enough force there from the beginning and not have to bring force in. So the ability to control violence or to lessen the chance of violence, I think that dynamic is changed by simply the presence of a large number of forces. So I think if you look at the lesson from last week at the US Capitol, that’s abundantly clear. After awhile, when they had supplemental forces come in, you saw what they were able to do. So I’ll go to any of our three experts out there who wants to make a comment.
Colonel Fambro: (24:51)
Governor, I’ll comment on that. You’re absolutely correct, sir. Throughout the summer, as we saw the demonstrations and protests, it was abundantly clear to us that communication is key and the belief that peaceful protests are always welcomed. So communicating with the group organizers to allow them to understand the rules of engagement, us understanding what their purpose is, and making sure that we protect the infrastructure of the Capitol, but also allowing people that want to come down to exercise their first amendment rights, that they can do that safely. And that is the goal of the unified command force that we have partnered for this event. That’s what we expect. That’s what we hope for and that’s what we prepare for. As you said, sir, being safe rather than sorry is really critical here because people have a right to exercise their first amendment rights.
Governor DeWine: (25:55)
Colonel, thank you. Anybody else?
John Harris: (25:58)
Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I think that the Colonel is spot on. And our experiences over the summer were that most of the people who were there were there with peaceful intent. The groups were organized and that organization was good and very positive because it kept with that intent. But we also learned that just a few bad actors can be incredibly disruptive, and with large crowds like that can be dangerous. But in general, folks came to exercise their first amendment rights. That’s what they did. And they were incredibly respectful, not only to the soldiers, but to the police officers and the first responders who were there. But again, I have to emphasize that sometimes those groups are infiltrated by people with bad intent, and that can be dangerous not only for law enforcement and the guard, but also for the people in the crowds who come there to demonstrate peacefully.
Governor DeWine: (26:49)
Mayor or Chief, either one of you want to add anything to that?
Chief Quinlan: (26:54)
I will offer the fact that, again, the General and the Colonel were spot on. To the question on lessons learned from past events, again, what it really did was reaffirm for us the knowledge that when you have people come down to peacefully protest and get a large crowd and some bad actors infiltrate that, that a different mentality can take over and turn a peaceful crowd into what we’ve seen in the past. And so we brought all the stakeholders, all the partners together to make sure that we have a plan in place to address and respond appropriately to any hazards that we see. Anyone who saw what occurred at the Capitol, any law abiding person should be angered at what they saw. So again, we have plans in place here because we have concerns. And with concerns comes preparation, and we are prepared to work with all of our partners, not just police and fire and National Guard, but with our healthcare workers and other emergency managers to make sure every resource we need is available and every resource we’ve asked for has been approved.
Governor DeWine: (28:15)
Speaker 3: (28:17)
Next question is from Alex Ebert at Bloomberg.
Alex Ebert: (28:22)
Thanks so much for having this discussion. Really appreciate the experts and your time. Could you please, as much as possible, provide some details about how you are intending to prevent people from entering the Capitol buildings or other government buildings? What are we doing to make these harder targets? Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (28:43)
Yeah, I’ll refer to the experts here. I’m not sure we want to get into all the details, but anybody who wants to take that.
Colonel Fambro: (28:52)
Governor, I can speak to that. We will not discuss specific tactics or what we’re doing. There are some obvious things that you will see as members of the public, fencing, that type of thing. But we’re just prepared, more importantly, to ensure that we have partnered with all of the people and agencies and entities that were mentioned earlier to allow for peaceful protest. That’s the hope, that’s the messaging and that’s communication that we will stand on. Our number one goal is to protect life and property, and we will protect the capitol, that infrastructure. Period.
Speaker 3: (29:33)
Next question is from Tom Gallach at Gungor News Service.
Tom Gallach: (29:37)
Hi Governor. I know there’s been some talk nationally about maybe pursuing stronger anti-domestic terrorism legislation in the wake of the events of the Capitol. Are there any state law or policy changes you’d like to see in the wake of that? Or is it just a matter of enforcing the laws that are already on the books?
Governor DeWine: (29:57)
I’m not aware of anything. We’re always open to listening to what the experts tell us. I think it’s primarily a security issue, law enforcement issue, intelligence issue, probably more than a statutory criminal offense issue. But we’re always open. I’m sure the legislature is open if there’s some deficiency that we have, but I’m not aware of it.
Speaker 3: (30:24)
Next question is from Randy Ludlow at the Columbus Dispatch.
Governor DeWine: (30:28)
Randy Ludlow: (30:29)
Good morning, Governor. Is the intent here to have such a show of force that you believe the State House will be unassailable, that no protestor will step foot inside?
Governor DeWine: (30:46)
Well, the State House is going to be closed and we would intend for no one to go inside. That would certainly be the idea. I think that we will have a significant presence there and there will be a backup presence there as well, besides what you see. So I don’t know if anyone wants to add anything to that.
Speaker 3: (31:12)
Next question is from Laura Bischoff at the Dayton Daily News.
Laura Bischoff: (31:17)
Good morning. This question is for General Harris and Colonel Fambro. Can you talk about your concerns going forward to deal with the long-term threats when we don’t have hundreds of guardsmen and patrol troopers deployed? And do you think that the January 6th events will have permanent changes in American life similar to how we made permanent changes after the attacks of 9/11?
Colonel Fambro: (31:46)
Laura, I’ll take a stab at that first. I think that we’ve all seen that the events over the course of the summer and even into the winter months have required us to react at different times to protest and activities there at the State House.
Colonel Fambro: (32:03)
… who protests and activities there at the state house. We are a force that is ready to respond to those, and we continue to prep and plan for those as a daily occurrence. So that’s how I would answer the first part of that. The second part, yes, the events of January 6, change the way we look at things. But it’s not really different from a planning and perspective that we look at security throughout what we do as an agency. It’s more about collaboration and partnerships and keeping those relationships strong with our partners to ensure that we communicate, that we assess what we have in the way of equipment and the needs of each agency and responding accordingly. We are a force that relies a lot on our partners, both federal, state, and local. And those partnerships are strong. That predates any of the events that have occurred over the course of the summer. We’ve gotten stronger as a law enforcement and collaborative community. And I’m very proud of that.
John Harris: (33:13)
I’d like to add. I think that the word collaboration is critical. And the partnership that you see here, the partnership between the national guard, the state patrol, the CPD and police departments all over our state is something that’s persistent because it’s our job to be, for lack of a better term paranoid. So we’re always assessing the situation and those partnerships are what allow us to do that. So we’re always adjusting and adapting to the current information, whether that’s in cyberspace or whether that’s the nature of the responses that we’re preparing for now. But we consider those concerns to be persistent. So, as I said before, information drives operations. So that determines where we focus our efforts and for how long we focus those efforts. But I guess the short answer is we never really consider the concerns gone. We never considered the concerns at zero, we’re always… We as the military, we don’t collect information on US persons, but we rely on our partners to always help us determine what’s the best place to focus our priorities when it comes to responding to the needs of the citizens of Ohio.
Governor DeWine: (34:22)
Let me just add that. We have known that we have domestic terrorists in the United States and there are a grave concern. I think the only thing that really changed in regard to the events at the Capitol is, it was displayed for the whole country and the whole world on live TV. And the images that continue to be shown show the gravity of it. But domestic terrorists had been a problem in this country and remain a problem in this country.
Speaker 4: (34:59)
Next question is from Jordan Vandenberge at WEWS in Cleveland.
Governor DeWine: (35:09)
Speaker 4: (35:15)
We’ll skip Jordan. The next question is from Jo Ingles at Ohio public radio and television.
Governor DeWine: (35:20)
Jo Ingles: (35:21)
Governor, hi. The Michigan governor is saying that basically the state house up there is not really deemed to be as safe as it needs to be. Let me ask you, do you feel that the Ohio state house is safe? Not just this weekend, but is it safe in general and our legislative or maybe administrative changes needed to make it safer in these troubled times?
Governor DeWine: (35:54)
I think the times we live in require us to constantly reevaluate security. And so a re-examination of the security at the state house I think is appropriate at this point.
Speaker 4: (36:11)
Next question will go back to Jordan Vandenberge at WEWS in Cleveland.
Jordan Vandenberge: (36:19)
Sorry about that governor. Good morning.
Governor DeWine: (36:21)
Jordan Vandenberge: (36:22)
My question is around the clear distinction between peaceful protestors and agitators, as we’ve seen in protests over the years, there is a very, very clear line between those two parties. My question is how difficult is it to not only identify those agitators, but also possibly prevent them from causing harm?
Governor DeWine: (36:46)
Well, I’ll start on that. And then we’ll see if anybody else wants to make a comment. I mean, clearly what we have seen is people who want to commit violence, basically hide among people who were there simply to protest, and they use them as cover, frankly. And that’s what we see time and time again, Jordan people come to protest, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, whether it was in Washington this past week. Or there to express their opinion and to protest. And they feel adamant about it. But we’ve seen that people who have a very different agenda or a dark agenda can use that as the occasion to be there, to hide among them and then to carry out their violence. So I’ll see if anyone else wants to comment.
Chief Quinlan: (37:45)
Thank you, Jordan. Let’s go on to Columbus, I get asked often by community members, what can we do to help the police keep our city safe? And in this instance, what I would ask is that if you do not have business downtown in the next several days from Friday through next Wednesday, take that time to take your family out, to support our local business, or restaurant. Or go to a park, avoid the area downtown, but you certainly have the right… People have the right to peacefully protest. And if they do, then what I would implore them to do is follow the directions of the public safety professionals who are down there to keep you safe. If that’s how we can best separate those who are engaged in unlawful behavior from those who are down there to exercise their lawful rights. Just follow our directions. We will maintain as much safety as we can for you, if you comply and maybe step aside, or go in the direction we asked you to go until we deal with those who are bent on causing harm to people, harm to our property and businesses, harm to our institutions and symbols of government. We will deal with those and then re-establish a safe location for you to return to. So my request would be to avoid the area. If you choose to come down, please just follow our directions so we can maintain the safety. And we will make sure that we deal those who are there for illegal purposes.
Colonel Fambro: (39:25)
Excellent points. And I might add, I spoke earlier about communication and collaboration. I’ll talk a little bit about the command staff that we maintain at the state house. One of their principle duties is to ensure that again, those people descending on the state house can do so and exercise the right to free speech in a peaceful manner and in a peaceful environment. That entails meeting with group leaders to establish those ground rules and communicate and understand if something happens or something goes south. We know who to connect with, and they do that often.
Colonel Fambro: (40:04)
And I’ll pray some of those group leaders over the course of the summer that took the opportunity to ensure that two-way communication was there. But also turning over bad actors that they identified as not being a part of their group or their messaging, and ensuring that the troopers or the police officers down their, deputies knew who was identified as a bad actor and not a part of their group or their belief system. So I would just ask and echo what the chief said and add to that, that communication piece is important. Again, to allow people to peacefully assemble and protest and express their rights, we’re there to listen. We hear what you have to say. We understand that you have a right and a belief system that you want to display and communicate, and we’re there to assist you in doing that. But we ask that you follow those ground rules and more importantly, communicate with us. And as the mayor said, if you see something, say something.
Speaker 4: (41:06)
Next question is from Meredith Stutz at WLWT in Cincinnati.
Meredith Stutz: (41:15)
Good morning, governor.
Governor DeWine: (41:16)
Meredith Stutz: (41:16)
My question to you and everyone on this call is considering what we saw last week in Washington and the ever shifting social media and online landscapes that we’re seeing in real time. How confident are you in the pre-intelligence that you all have that will be reliable throughout the next several days? And how confident are you that that can get through to not only the people on this call, but also to individual troopers and law enforcement officers. And also if you would care to comment on any concerns you have this large amount of law enforcement gathering and potential protestors gathering during the pandemic.
Governor DeWine: (41:50)
Well, I think intelligence is you always ask the question, do we have enough intelligence? Are we getting what we need? I spent 12 years on the Senate committee on intelligence and for the world, obviously, as we look at the world and do we have enough intelligence? And so it’s the same way in law enforcement. I don’t think you ever have enough intelligence and you always do in fact worry, do you have enough information. But I’ll turn it over to the law enforcement side. And if anyone wants to comment or general Harris wants to comment.
Chief Quinlan: (42:24)
Thank you, governor. Just real quick without going into what intelligence is available to us, what I will say for the confidence of people that find themselves in this area is that, we have had routine calls and information sharing between the US conference of mayors, major city chiefs, Capitol city, mayors and chiefs, FBI state fusion centers. We are communicating frequently with what information is available, what we need to know to make solid decisions that are right for our community. Then before we deploy any officers in the field, we always have a pre deployment briefing where all the rules of engagement are covered. Any intelligence that we can share with them to be aware of, to be watching for, to be documenting and to be acting on is down at the line level. So they’re available to act in real time on what they anticipate, or what they may be even unanticipated in scene, knowing how to react to that. Thank you, Meredith.
John Harris: (43:38)
I’d like to respond to the concern about the coronavirus and bringing these folks together collectively, it is a real concern for us. And I’ll just remind you that these national guard folks that we’re bringing on duty, we’re doing something else just a couple of days ago and had no idea they’ll become coming here, except for the fact that they’ve been put on a higher state of alert. So these are people who are working on… They’ve stepped away from a work project. They’ve had to figure out what to do with their pets. These are folks who just stepped out of their civilian lives to become soldiers and airmen in just a couple of days notice. So there is concern about bringing those folks together and the coronavirus. So we’ve done a few things. We have coordinated with the state testing team and every person that we’re bringing on to duty for these missions.
John Harris: (44:20)
We’re having them take the BinaxNow test, the rapid test and so that we can screen them. And if someone comes up positive, we’ll take the appropriate measures. But these are the kinds of risk decisions that we make. We have to respond. This is our responsibility to the people of Ohio and the oath that we took. So we put as many mitigation measures in place. We’ll be masking, will maintain social distancing as much as possible. But this is part of being a soldier, an airman. Sometimes you have to assume a little greater risk than the typical population in order to accomplish a mission.
John Harris: (44:51)
And that’s what makes this citizen soldier, this citizen airman so great is that they’re willing to do that. And they never shy away from that. And we’ve been doing that from the start. We’ve done that in food banks. We’ve done that when we put folks in prisons and we’ve kept mitigation measures in place that have helped us control the spread of the disease throughout our force. And quite frankly, that’s important for the mission, but it’s also important when we send these people back home. When we demobilize, when they go back to their families, we certainly want them in their families to be safe.
Mayor Ginther: (45:20)
Meredith you raised a good point in a reminder, we still are in the throws of a global pandemic. And so if there are folks that are coming to protest peacefully, we encourage them to mask up and as much as possible socially distance. It’s incredibly important to protect other peaceful protestors, but also protect our guardsmen, our troopers and our officers as well. So appreciate that a reminder.
Speaker 4: (45:54)
Next question. Go ahead, colonel.
Colonel Fambro: (45:57)
I’ll just touch on that too. The mayor is correct. Everyone is correct in that. The thing that I like to throw out there is when we talk about intelligence and safety, we’re always concerned also about the safety of our women and men that have taken an oath to be involved in public service. So as superintendent, the safety of our troopers, as well as our partners is of utmost concern to me. And the one thing that sometimes gets lost in the fray is that they are people too. They’re members of these communities and represent the same beliefs and values of good American people that have chosen a life in public service. And as people come down to peacefully protest, it’s important that they remember that these women and men have chosen this profession and they have families at home too, that need to be protected. And that are concerned about their personal safety as they go about doing their duties.
Speaker 4: (47:01)
Next question is from Kenny Bassett, WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia.
Kenny Bassett : (47:06)
Hi, thanks for taking the question. A couple of quick things to cover, maybe one for the governor and maybe one for the National Guard. Governor, I’ve heard a lot about armed protests going on at the Capitol. If it’s legal to carry weapons, either concealed carry with a permit or open carry, whatever Ohio’s laws are. Do you handle something that’s labeled an armed protest differently than something that would be labeled an unarmed protest? And secondly, in West Virginia, which I’m more familiar with most National Guard troops when they’re deployed are in support and logistical positions, would that be the same in Ohio? I noticed the last resort was mentioned that for National Guard troops to be handling what we would normally deem police responsibility. So the guard obviously is available for those types of things, but is its primary mission support in logistics in case it has to step in? And also, can you address the unarmed versus armed protests in your mindset in dealing with those. Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (48:03)
Well, I’m going to let-
Kenny Bassett : (48:03)
… in dealing with those. Thank you.
Governor DeWine: (48:03)
Well, I’m going to let General Harris respond to both of those. In regard to the first one, just very quickly, we follow the law. We have the right to do that, to be armed. Obviously, it would heighten your sense of concern and that’s about all I will say. We’ll let go to General Harris. Let you handle that, General.
John Harris: (48:28)
Yes, sir. We’re prepared to do the full spectrum of operations, so if sustainment logistic-type support is what’s required then we’re in a position to provide that. We’re the fifth-largest national guard in the country, so we have a significant set of capabilities available to us and to the governor. But as I said before, we’re prepared to go all the way up to doing security at fixed sites right alongside local law enforcement and the state patrol. We’re equipped and we’ve outfitted our units to be able if they need us to do patrols side- by-side, roving patrols side-by-side either mounted or dismounted with local law enforcement. We’re prepared to do that, and if we’re asked to do actual crowd control, we’re prepared to do that.
John Harris: (49:10)
We’ve rehearsed formations with the state patrol. We’ve worked with both of these entities before and if we’re asked to integrate with them in order to help control crowds, we’re prepared to go to that level.
Governor DeWine: (49:22)
I don’t know if anybody wants… law enforcement wants to answer Kenny’s other questions about people being armed. If anybody wants to take that or not. Okay.
Chief Quinlan: (49:35)
I’ll briefly address the issue is… Again, it’s not the fact whether a person’s armed, it’s a person’s actions, what they’re doing with the weapon that they possess. Again, if they’re legally compliant with the law and the open carry or concealed carry laws then they’ll have no interaction with law enforcement. If they’re engaged in provocative behaviors that rise to the level of illegal activities then they should expect to encounter law enforcement appropriately.
Governor DeWine: (50:03)
Speaker 5: (50:04)
Next question. Adrienne Robbins at WCMH in Columbus.
Adrienne Robbins: (50:11)
Thank you, gentlemen. My question is for Mayor Ginther or for Chief Quinlin. We’re talking a lot about the Ohio Statehouse obviously, but how concerned are you about threats throughout the Columbus area? And what’s your recommendation if these people live, work, or own businesses downtown or just in the general downtown area? What should they do over the next week?
Mayor Ginther: (50:33)
I appreciate the question. I think we have spoken mostly about the statehouse and the downtown area. What I would recommend to folks… I think that a number of folks have mentioned here today if you don’t have to be downtown, particularly on Sunday, I’d encourage people to stay home or enjoy parks or other places with their families in neighborhoods throughout our city.
Mayor Ginther: (50:56)
We have been in contact with and we have briefed downtown, Short North, Arena District business owners and shared information with law enforcement. The city have reached out to folks to share information and provide resources to them. As much information as we can provide to them about taking steps to protect themselves, their businesses, and their employees. Ultimately, it will be their decisions about closing or not, but really trying to do our part to make sure that we allow folks that are there to peacefully protest, to demonstrate their First Amendment rights, but also for General Harris, Colonel, and Chief to keep them safe, but the greater community safe as well.
Mayor Ginther: (51:46)
And so, we’re going to continue to work together with the state, federal, other authorities to make sure that regardless of what part of town that both protestors and the public are safe.
Speaker 5: (52:03)
Next question is from Jeremy Pelzer at cleveland.com.
Jeremy Pelzer: (52:07)
Hi, Governor. Thanks to you and all the officials on this call for taking so many questions. You guys have any idea or even an estimate of how many people you’re expecting to show up? I mean, are we talking thousands, hundreds, dozens? Do you have any idea?
Governor DeWine: (52:26)
Anybody want to take that? [crosstalk 00:52:32]
Colonel Fambro: (52:33)
It’s Colonel, sir. We don’t have any idea, Jeremy. I wish we did know, but we plan as if we can handle crowds from one to thousands.
Speaker 5: (52:48)
Next question is from Dan DeRoos at WOIO in Cleveland.
Dan DeRoos: (52:53)
Good morning, gentlemen. I think everything’s really been covered here on the security front, so I’d like to, unfortunately, break protocol a little bit. Governor, Summit County rolled out their plan for the vaccine yesterday, and I think I wasn’t alone being pretty astonished to find out that there is no central registration program that’s going to be unveiled. If you want a chance at the 200 doses that the Summit County Public Health is getting you can register with them, but the other 5,500 doses for the county are going to Giant Eagle, Marc’s, Drug Mart, Acme, among many others. So, now you’re asking 80- year-olds who may be a little tech challenged, not only do they have to register with Summit County Public Health, but Giant Eagle, Marc’s, Drug Mart, and Acme, all of which have nothing up yet to register to get an appointment and we are five days away. Is this really the plan you wanted for the rollout?
Governor DeWine: (53:52)
I’ll address that more at 2:00, but I’ll give you a little… Maybe try to answer it a little bit now. I’ll do it in more detail at 2:00 on our regular press conference. We start with the situation that we have a scarcity. We have a scarcity of the vaccine, and we’ve said that, but I think sometimes people don’t realize that. We do have a scarcity.
Governor DeWine: (54:18)
We’re balancing a number of different things. One of the things that people told us in communities is, “We want to be able to access this close to us. We don’t want to have to just have no other option than to go to one central place.” This is a state is a decentralized state. Healthcare is provided in a decentralized way. Just as an example, I think about a third of all the flu shots every year are given in pharmacies. Wouldn’t have been something we would’ve expected 20 or 30 years ago, but that’s the way it is working today.
Governor DeWine: (55:04)
So, for the first couple weeks, this is what you’re going to see. And yes, there will be more inconvenience on the front end. There’s no doubt about that. Now, if you’re in a small county and you’ve got three, four, five locations, even a mid-size county, that will be much easier. A larger county, yes, it is going to be more challenging, but we hope the way this works is that once people are able to sign up, get a confirmation that when they go they will then, on that end, not be inconvenienced by waiting a long time.
Governor DeWine: (55:48)
We have seen pictures coming out of other states where people have waited hours and hours and hours and hours. So, what we have decided to do is to try this, and more decentralized, and let people be able to get it where they normally get shots. Some physicians will have it. Physicians who are part of a bigger healthcare system. Hospitals will have it. Federally designated clinics will have it, and this way people… everyone will be fairly close to a location.
Governor DeWine: (56:28)
Now, there will be frustration, and the frustration is going to also be driven by the fact that we know next week when we open this up on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that we have, in the state of Ohio, about 425,000 people who are 80 years of age or older. We believe that we’re going to have about 100,000 or so doses available next week, and so obviously, not everyone over 80 and older will be able to get it. And that is a national problem every state has to figure out how to deal with, and so I don’t like it that we don’t have enough, but that is the reality. That’s the world I live in.
Governor DeWine: (57:10)
What we will do then in several weeks is we hope we have more. We have the ability to bring that out to a further group of people. We also have the ability, and we’re working now, to set up bigger locations where people can literally go, and get in line, and that’s the way they choose to get that, and to queue up basically and go through. So, in a few weeks, as we get more, we’re going to expand it, and the issue always is, how do we get out… What we don’t want is any vaccines sitting on shelves for very, very long. On the other hand, we want people to have the convenience of being fairly close to them. We worry about under-served populations only having one place to go.
Governor DeWine: (58:06)
So, yes, this will be an inconvenience to people initially as they try to sign up and as they do sign up. We recognize that. We hope that it’ll compensate on the other end by not having a long, long wait. As far as a central registry, we’ll talk a little bit more about that this afternoon.
Mayor Ginther: (58:30)
Governor, could I just add a word to that. I mean, the governor’s been in constant contact with mayors around the state for months working on these issues, and we continue to offer feedback and guidance. He’s been very receptive to that and made clear to us that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that we are all focused on continuous improvement. Getting the vaccine that we have to local communities around the state, but most importantly, getting these vaccines in those that are most at-risk. And so, we know that there are other ways that we can improve this process in more coordination on a local level, but it’s going to require the continued collaboration and partnership between the state, our local health departments, and these private providers as well. So, I think things will continue to improve with respect to collaboration and delivery of vaccines on the local level.
Governor DeWine: (59:28)
Mayor, thank you very much. And we will continue to evolve this, and we will continue to do something that we think is very, very important. And that is that we prioritize the most vulnerable people among us and get the vaccine out. And by most vulnerable, I simply mean the most likely to die if, in fact, they get the virus. And so, we’re not going to just open it up. That might be the simplest thing to do, but that will cost lives, so we’re trying to target, we’re trying to get people who are 80 years of age a week jump on this, and then we’ll move forward every week and add additional groups.
Governor DeWine: (01:00:08)
But there will be frustration, and certainly, I have frustration, until we get enough vaccines. And so, these are all trade-offs, but we continue to stay in touch. I was on the phone yesterday with Mayor Jackson. Mayor Ginther and I talk a lot. I’m on with all the mayors today at 11:30 again, as far as the mayors of our bigger cities, and I think, frankly, candidly, you’re going to see a challenge more in the bigger metropolitan areas. The smaller communities where we maybe only have three or four locations, they’re going to be able to handle that easier than someone who lives in a urban area. But we’re evolving this, but we’re going to keep our eye on the ball. The eye on the ball means we save lives, try to get our kids back in school, and we protect our first responders. Thank you very much. We’ll be back at 2:00.