DENVER -- St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman strolled through downtown Denver's bustling 16th Street Mall on Monday, surveying the storm of political festivity about to hit his city next week.
Vendors peddling Barack Obama paraphernalia everywhere. Packed restaurants and hotels. Protesters raising signs about everything from abortion to the environment.
And police. Lots and lots of police dressed in black, some in full riot gear.
The law-enforcement presence probably won't be as visible when St. Paul hosts the Republican National Convention next week, Coleman and St. Paul Assistant Police Chief Matthew Bostrom said after visiting Denver for the beginning of the Democratic convention.
"I see a lot of the reasons why you host an event like this. There's a ton of activity. There are people coming into a community that have never seen it before," Coleman said. "I feel that energy. I feel that excitement ... I feel very confident that we're prepared to host the event next week."
A group of six Twin Cities law enforcement officials spent time over the weekend getting an inside look at how security was working in Denver and making sure they'd thought of everything back home. "With them going first, we have a chance to see how well our plans" will work, Bostrom said.
Coleman and Bostrom were careful not to criticize the police presence in Denver.
Police seem to be everywhere surrounding the Democratic convention. There were gaggles of a half-dozen officers standing on the sides of roads. Officers standing on top of buildings. Officers riding bikes and motorcycles. Officers wearing riot gear atop horses, which are also sporting riot gear.
"Denver's doing what's right for their city," said Bostrom. "We're going to do what's right for St Paul and Minneapolis ... it has to do with your metro area and the culture."
Like Denver, St. Paul and Minneapolis are sending a strong message to citizens that downtowns are still open. From the look of things on the 16th Street Mall -- a mixture of office workers in suits and convention-goers in sandals -- the message seems to be working in Denver, Coleman commented.
"I feel so good across the board," he said.
Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102