A heavy contingent of Dakota County law officers will be in St. Paul to help during the Republican National Convention with assignments ranging from roaming with a mobile unit to gathering intelligence.

"This is a regional event in terms of law enforcement security," said Dave Bellows, chief deputy of the Dakota County Sheriff's Office. "Dakota County butts up to the city of St. Paul, so we feel like we want to be a good and active partner during the RNC."

The Sheriff's Office is sending about 25 deputies. Burnsville is sending 15, Eagan, 11, and Lakeville, 18, but law enforcement officials said the federal government is footing the bill and that citizens won't be left with less protection.

Those are just a few of the departments in Dakota County and beyond that are sending officers to the event starting Sept. 1 at Xcel Energy Center.

They'll be among roughly 3,500 officers coming to help from throughout the United States, said Tom Walsh, a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department, which is coordinating security with the FBI.

Walsh said the federal government provided $34 million to reimburse cities and counties for their officers' salaries, and $16 million for security-related equipment ranging from cars to cameras. St. Paul police are disbursing the money.

"We had to do some creative scheduling because we don't want this initiative to be shouldered by the good people of Eagan," said Police Chief Jim McDonald. "It's not going to cost us any money. We anticipate recouping all of our expenses through the St. Paul Police Department."

A conference for judges will be held during the convention in Dakota County. That frees many of the deputies assigned to courthouse security so that they can be deployed to St. Paul, Bellows said.

While much of the convention activity will be centered in St. Paul and Minneapolis, plenty of Dakota County deputies are being kept in the county, including some from a multi-agency SWAT team, he said.

"We have a great responsibility in assisting with the details up at the RNC," Bellows said. "Plus we have to be prepared ... should anything happen within Dakota County that's RNC related, that we have an adequate response."

In Eagan, 11 out of 69 officers will head to St. Paul during the convention, McDonald said. Nine will be assigned to a rapid-response team and two others will work a traffic detail.

"We're going to have our normal staffing schedule on every night during the RNC," McDonald said, "so our citizens shouldn't see a drop in service."

He added that measures have been taken to ensure that emergency response times won't be affected.

Last week, Eagan city officials decided to allow bars to remain open until 4 a.m. during the convention. McDonald said he doesn't anticipate needing extra patrols because of the extended hours.

Some of his officers are in training as part of the convention security rapid-response team and have been issued protective gear, paid for through the federal grant, including gas masks, helmets and chest, elbow and shin pads, McDonald said.

In Lakeville, officers will work the convention while off duty from the city.

"We have 18 officers who have volunteered to work off duty so it will not impact our service levels for on-duty staffing," Lakeville Police Chief Tom Vonhoff said.

Burnsville will pay some overtime as it backfills shifts left empty by the officers deployed to St. Paul. But overtime and all other costs will be reimbursed through the federal grant, said Sgt. Dan Carlson.

Eight Burnsville officers will be assigned to one of the mobile field forces that will roam the convention. Seven other Burnsville officers will be assigned to a mobile command post that will be attached to the FBI's hostage negotiation team, Carlson said.

The Burnsville officers are training with police from St. Paul and Bloomington.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is deploying its mobile command vehicle for use by the St. Paul Fire Department during the convention. With radio, telephone, satellite, visual recording devices and more, it can operate as a mobile command center or medical clinic in a crisis, said Jim Muelken, director of emergency services for the Mdewakanton Tribe's fire department.

"The tribe is happy to provide emergency and safety equipment to the city of St. Paul for this important event," said Tribe Chairman Stanley R. Crooks.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017