With 50,000 visitors expected to descend on Northeast Ohio for the Republican National Convention this week, police are looking to all available eyes and ears to help keep the city safe.
That includes Cleveland’s homeless residents.
On Tuesday night, police visited at least two homeless encampments to elicit help from people living there, according to City Lab. Officers are urging them to report any outsiders who may be posing as homeless people or anyone engaging in suspicious activity.
“The homeless who live down near the river have told tourists and people from out of town that they cannot stay down with them,” Brian Davis, executive director at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), told Cleveland Scene. “They have told them they have to move on—not wanting any trouble or making police intervene.”
The organization handed out fact sheets to give homeless people an idea of what to look out for and changes in security protocols during the convention.
In addition to asking homeless people to report suspicious activity, the flyers alerted them to camping restrictions and information about where to seek out shelter and resources.
A man who goes by “Ice,” and lives at the Men’s Shelter, heeded the call to keep Cleveland’s streets safe, according to WKYC.
When he saw someone taking pictures underneath the Detriot-Superior Bridge, Ice chased the person away and called in the incident.
While some homeless people are willing to get involved, advocates say the increased security measures are wreaking havoc on their efforts.
Davis told the news outlet that the NEOCH had to shut down its drop-in center because it wasn’t able to hire additional security, but the shelters will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.