Presidential Candidate George McGovern
Campaigns in Huntington

The Herald-Dispatch (Huntington)
September 18, 1972

Police Reaction To Senator's Visit Simple: Anxiety

Officers In Front Of, Behind, Surrounding McGovern

Harry L. Baisden
Herald-Dispatch Staff Writer

Sen. George McGovern's arrival at Tri-State Airport on Sunday evening caused mixed reactions among the region's populace, but to members of one group here the reaction was the same - anxiety.

That group was the Huntington Police Department, upon whose shoulder rested the responsibility of being the primary augmentation force to Secret Service agents assigned to cover the presidential candidate.

The effort was headed by Capt. Norman Noble, chief of the department's patrol bureau and second in command on the force. The security assignment came at the end of a long weekend for Capt. Noble - Chief G. H. Kleinknecht was out of town replacing City Manager Ed Ewing at a conference and the department's newest captain was in command.

Capt. Noble's security force consisted of some 30 off-duty policemen, called back in on their days off to help protect the candidate. Despite the detailed defense measures taken, no officers were taken off their regular duties in the city.

When the McGovern party airplanes set down at the airport at 7:11 p.m., eight plainclothesmen were in the crowds on hand for the welcome. Also there were 10 uniformed officers who helped with crowd and traffic control.

Four supervisors also were on hand at the airport as were two Community Service Officers to provide ambulance service for Sen. and Mrs. McGovern should they need it (the CSO's were under orders to refer any other ambulance situations to the other ambulance on regular duty or to a private amulance also at the airport).

As an added precaution, had any of the onlookers looked closely at the control tower at the airport, they would have seen a Huntington patrolman with a pair of high-power binoculars scanning the area.

As the McGovern party headed in toward Huntington, the police were with it, ahead of it, behind it and stationed along the way.

Police reserves were stationed at every major intersection along 16th St. from Washington Boulevard to 7th Ave., blocking side street traffic to let the cavalcade pass. Patrolmen also were stationed at 16th St. and 5th and 6th avenues and in front of the Memorial Student Center on 5th Ave.

Some of the plainclothesmen managed to leave the airport ahead of the cavalcade and they arrived at the student center in time to augment another group of plainclothesmen already there, sealing off the upper floor of the building and checking the area around the plaza where McGovern was to make his speech.

One detective complained about the timing of the senator's visit. "He waited till dark and that doubles our problems," he said. "There's people up in the trees around the plaza out there and we just can't check them that closely."

One minor incident occurred at the campus appearance - a piece of brick was thrown on the speaker's platform some 5 to 10 minutes before McGovern arrived on the stage.

When the party left the university and set up headquarters at the UpTowner Inn for the night, the police patrols went, too, keeping uniformed patrols active around the building while plainclothesmen "mingled" among the McGovern supporters in the building and around the pool outside.

Capt. Noble planned to cut back on the number of men on special duty after midnight, but was not sure just how many extra men would be needed by the Secret Service after then.

"It all has gone very smoothly," Capt. Noble said, as the police arrived at the motel.

It was a smooth operation - even when the "point car," or lead police vehicle which was to clear the way for the cavalcade, broke down on the airport road - no problems developed in getting the entourage into the city.

State police provided an "official" function for the project - although the job was being handled primarily by the Secret Service and the Huntington police - a state trooper was on hand to give city police "authority" at the airport.

Cabell County sheriff's deputies, also got into the act, providing assistance with traffic control.

The Secret Service? Not wishing to tip their procedures, the agents would not reveal just how many were already at the airport nor how many came in with the party. One agent said the number of men assigned varies from place to place, depending on the amount [o]f local protection and other factors.

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