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If the security goal during the Republican National Convention was to prevent disruption to the delegates, avoid serious injuries and protect property, then mission accomplished, St. Paul's police chief said Wednesday.

In front of the City Council, Chief John Harrington gave a preliminary recap of police operations during the RNC, held Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center. He spoke with council members for more than an hour, the first lengthy public briefing he has given since the convention, which drew tens of thousands of visitors, protesters and news media members.

He praised officers for using restraint and said security was, on the whole, a success. Meanwhile, about 50 people gathered outside City Hall to protest police brutality.

Mayor Chris Coleman and others hailed the convention as a success that put the city on the world stage. But some residents and protesters haven't reacted so warmly. Police have been accused of making unnecessary arrests, using excessive force and wantonly deploying crowd-control devices. Preconvention raids drew outrage.

Harrington said rioters assaulted peaceful protesters, broke windows of businesses and threw urine and feces on officers. More than 800 people were arrested, and rioters caused $69,000 in damage to property, he said.

There were about 3,700 uniformed sworn officers, the majority from other jurisdictions.

If commands didn't work, a chemical irritant was considered the best first crowd-control tactic because it didn't involve physical contact and was "less injurious," Harrington said. Tear gas, flash bangs and smoke grenades were used as situations escalated, he said.

The general tactic was to direct and deny, meaning officers would tell marchers where to go and block troublemakers from getting to places where they could cause damage.

Police have sent forms to 40 people who might submit internal affairs complaints, Harrington said.

As for things he might have done differently, he said, he would have recruited more "peacekeepers" -- folks in yellow hats who worked to defuse situations on the street. He also said it would have been helpful to have criteria worked out to identify working journalists -- dozens of whom were arrested but later had charges dropped.

It was a struggle to control officers who came from all over the country, Harrington said, because there was no prior training session with everyone together. Communication was a problem on the first day of the convention.

Other reports are still to come. The department is working on a so-called "after-action report" that might be finished by the end of the year. The federal government will do an audit, as part of the agreement the city signed to receive a $50 million security grant. Two former federal prosecutors, Tom Heffelfinger and Andy Luger, are leading a commission of five other people to review the interaction between the community and police.

Speakers at the protest outside City Hall on Wednesday spoke out against police brutality.

Garrett Fitzgerald, one of the eight people who have been charged in Ramsey County with conspiracy to riot in the furtherance of terrorism, described the case against him as an effort to make dissent a crime, and he urged protesters to continue working against police abuses, saying that if people aren't careful, simply being next to someone at a protest rally could open one up to conspiracy charges.

Chris Havens • 651-298-1542