MPD Wants Beef Jerky, Pepper Spray
DNC security purchase list includes 50,000 bottles of Gatorade, 4,000-pound concrete barriers and tear gas-delivering battering ram.
Regardless of how many people show up, the Milwaukee Police Department is seeking to buy or rent a whole lot of equipment for the Democratic National Convention.
The city has 23 open bidding opportunities currently and the requests are wide-ranging. They range from the mundane, rentals of barricades and coach buses, to the controversial, a “tactical gas delivery system” and pepper spray.
Monday, July 13th, would have marked the start of the convention, but the event was pushed back to August 17th through the 20th as a result of the pandemic. Questions about how many people will attend remain, with Mayor Tom Barrett declining to provide a number on Monday morning, but acknowledging the event will be smaller.
Assistant Police Chief Michael Brunson, at a recent council committee meeting, said the department is still preparing for a full contingent of protesters.
Many of the bidding specifications give you an example of the size of the event. For instance, the city is looking to rent 32,750 aluminum barricades. A security zone is expected to encompass much of Westown, even as the event has been switched from Fiserv Forum to the Wisconsin Center.
The city’s bid request indicates that the department anticipates spending over $50,000 on at least 13 of the contracts. That includes open requests for quotations for 50 tactical ballistic vests with tactical pouches, 40 handheld radios, combat trauma system medical bags (and supplies) and 500 4,000-pound concrete barriers (jersey barriers). The department is also seeking technology upgrades to its emergency operations center.
The contract requests indicate the department intends to keep the officers on site well-hydrated. Bid requests are out to buy 134,400 16.9-ounce bottles of water and 50,400 20-ounce bottles of Gatorade or Powerade for a police force originally estimated at approximately 4,000 officers.
The department is also seeking snacks, including 12,000 individual 1.25-ounce servings of beef jerky (must be made with “premium steak with natural smoke flavor added”) and 12,000 two-ounce packages of trail mix (must include a mixture of peanuts, M&Ms or equivalent, raisins, almonds and cashews).
The purchases are scheduled to be reimbursed through a $50 million federal grant and the city will be able to maintain ownership of the equipment it buys after the convention has passed.
Some of the items the department requested were previously pulled at the Common Council’s request, but they’re back on the open bid list now.
MPD is looking to buy a “tactical gas delivery system” that can be mounted to the front of one its armored BearCat vehicles. The RFQ does not define a quantity, but says the department is looking for a “Draco Gas Delivery System or equivalent.” A visit to the vendor’s website shows a nearly two-minute highlight reel, complete with heavy metal soundtrack, that shows the gas delivery system works as a battering ram capable of breaking through brick walls before discharging.
But a bid request for the gas or “smoke” to go into the delivery system isn’t on the list. Bids for “aerosol projector irritant” and “gas mask equipment” are not currently listed.
After the items were pulled in June council members asked the department if it still was seeking to buy them. “Yes we still need those items,” said Brunson.
The open bid opportunities are listed on the city’s website.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said MPD was looking for on-demand ready-mix concrete. That request is for the city’s general purposes, not explicitly the DNC.
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Read more about Road to the DNC here