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Police making plans to keep supporters, protesters safe for Democratic debate

Police plan a large presence to make sure everyone is safe at the Democratic Debate at Otterbein University.

Otterbein University will be center stage for politics next week as 12 Democratic candidates for president take on each other in a debate.

With the candidates come supporters, protesters and crowds.

“We want to provide a welcoming environment but still safe environment that’s a real balancing act,” said Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler.

Westerville police of been working on safety plans for weeks working with different law-enforcement departments from across the area.

“This is 12 candidates, not one candidate. Obviously it’s the same type of security but on a much larger scale,” Chandler said.

They are there to make sure everyone has a safe space to speak their minds.

“We want to make sure they have a generous space that is close to the venue because we know they want their voices to be heard. We just want those groups to respect each other‘s rights to have different opinions and different views,” Chandler said.

Police are expecting protesters and second amendment supporters to show up in a noticeable way.

“We want to be sure to provide a free speech area that safe. I can see there will be open carry groups here advocating for the Second Amendment. People around town need to know the day before the day of they may see many people doing open carry with rifles,” Chandler said.

The other big concern is going to be parking. It will be limited, and police will enforce all parking rules, with tow trucks ready.