Transcript of Timoney Fox Interview
15 July 2004
GIBSON: Free speech is one thing, sabotage quite another. Hardcore
protesters might be planning big dangerous things for the
Republican National Convention next month. New York City's police
department already has its hands full with threats of terrorism.
I'm joined now by Miami Police Chief John Timoney. He was
Philadelphia Chief during the last Republican convention and New York's
Deputy Chief during the 1992 Democratic convention. Chief, the big question:
could convention protesters actually leave us vulnerable to terrorism?
JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE CHIEF: Oh, absolutely. If you saw
the article in today's "Daily News," they clearly lay out a case that the
protesters intend on using a variety of ruses, if you will, including
covering themselves with gun powder, which would activate chemical
systems, drug- sniffing dogs, which would cause the NYPD to respond, or
hopefully to over- respond to certain situations where you are taking police
officers away from needed locations to divert them.
Also, to tie up traffic in the tunnels, in the trains, taking
police officers away, really from their core mission of doing two
things. One, having a peaceful convention where legitimate protesters can
add their views. And then, two, or maybe more importantly, dealing with
the whole issue of potential terrorists.
GIBSON: Well, what can the cops do about it? People can go
around covering themselves with gun powder if they want.
TIMONEY: Right. Exactly. And the NYPD, I am sure, is coming up
with a game plan that will involve a variety of tactics using both uniform
and plain-clothed officers, including deep undercover. The problem is,
and I face this myself on numerous occasions, you almost have to wait
until the act is committed because anything short of that, I guarantee you,
they will have lawyers there claiming that the NYPD is using this as an
excuse to make preemptive arrests to stifle the sense of free speech.
And there's a whole game that goes on at these events. Unfortunately, it's
a very dangerous game.
GIBSON: You know who these people are. I mean, you just dealt
with them in Miami not along ago. The World Trade Organization deals with
them all around the world and I'm sure you're in touch with your
colleagues in Oregon where a lot of them are based. So, if you know who they
are and you know they're coming, you can't just scoop them up for a few days?
TIMONEY: No. That would be un-American. However, you know, we do know who
they are. They go from city to city. There's a hardcore group.
As a matter of fact, after the 2000 convention clearly we arrested about
400, some of which had been arrested in other cities, and at that time I
wrote to the Justice Department, Janet Reno, recommending that they open
an investigation at the federal level for people -- these are not
spontaneous demonstrators, by the way, this is not the '60s where civil
rights demonstrations break out, or anti-war protesters -- these are
individuals that actually plan and train and arm themselves coming into
the city with the sole purpose of engaging and property damage, assault on
police officers, it has nothing to do with protests and free speech. It's
all about anarchy, vandalism, assault on police officers.
GIBSON: Now, do you believe that their intention is to provide a smoke
screen, a cover, while real terrorists slip around in the background and
blow up something big?
TIMONEY: I wouldn't say that that's their intention, but that could be the
result of their actions.
GIBSON: Well, if that is the case, then what do you do about it?
TIMONEY: Well, it's difficult. It really is difficult and I can
tell you, they will have a battery of lawyers with them making sure that
their rights are protected while they go about their business, and
the police department, in certain cases, can't begin to move or make an
arrest until the damage or the act has already been committed. And in the
case of doing those ruses, such as arming themselves with gun powder, that
have the explosive dogs kind of raise up unnecessarily with false
positives, it's right now not against the law, but I'm sure there's some
section of the law somewhere that that should apply to.
GIBSON: Chief Timoney, there's something like -- the last time I talked to
Ray Kelly, I think he gave me a number like nearly 40,000 sworn officers
in New York City. Isn't that a huge force that can overwhelm this kind of
TIMONEY: Well, the problem is you can't overwhelm it, and they'll be
using, which is an extraordinary figure, John, they're using about 12,000
police officers according to the papers today, back in 1992 we used 3,000.
So, four times as many police officers are needed.
Now, a lot are needed for terrorism and free protest, but quite a few
thousand extra are needed to do deal with these people whose sole purpose,
I remind you, whose sole purpose is to come in and disrupt the convention;
not free speech, not protest, but to engage in vandalism, property damage,
and assault on police officers.
GIBSON: Miami Police Chief John Timoney. Chief, thanks a lot. Appreciate
you coming on.
TIMONEY: Thank you, John.