April 03, 2008

Denver Police Department Stocks Up On Security Equipment For DNC, Recreate '68 Worried

[to] "Successfully implement the security and safety surrounding the Democratic National Convention"--from Denver's Department of Safety

In what is sure to be a developing story about security measures and tactics surrounding the Democratic National Convention, activist groups including Recreate '68 are worried about police expenditures ahead of August:
The Denver Police Department is using taxpayer money to buy new security equipment in preparation for the Democratic National Convention in August but is refusing to disclose exactly what the purchases are, saying that revealing the information would be "contrary to the public interest."
. . .
Detective John White, a spokesman for the police department, confirmed the Denver police were buying new equipment to "enhance the safety" of convention attendees. White declined to say exactly what and how much was being purchased. He said the total amount of taxpayer money used to buy the equipment might not be known until after the convention.

Colorado Confidential sent an open records request to the Denver Police Department in March, seeking any and all purchase orders, award papers, and contracts regarding security equipment for the convention. A response from the city's Department of Safety (the parent organization for the police department) denied the request and stated that such information would disclose "tactical information" that is not in the public interest.
. . .
While the police department is declining to release the purchasing orders, city budget documents offer some clues but no certainties.

Denver 2008 budget documents for the Department of Safety show that one of the police department's missions will be to "successfully implement the security and safety surrounding the Democratic National Convention."
There is certainly an argument for some disclosure, insofar as specific details that might jeopardize the convention itself are not revealed, for obvious reasons.

What worries the protestors--but is no doubt a reaction to their strident calls to "Recreate '68" and is, in essence, a product of their own making--is that police are taking steps to deal with any threat to the DNC's security, and also deal with any protestor violence, in spite of their claims of "non-violence":
Mark Cohen, a member of the organizing committee for the Recreate 68 Alliance, a coalition of groups that plan to demonstrate at the Democratic convention, released a statement saying that the group is very concerned about so-called "crowd control" and "less than lethal" weapons and equipment the police department may be purchasing in anticipation of protests, including Tasers and other sonic weapons that can be used to disperse crowds.

"Contrary to [the police department's] statement, it is very much in the public interest for the people of Denver to know whether the Denver Police Department -- which should be subject to civilian oversight in such matters -- is planning to purchase such equipment with public funds for use on peaceful protesters," said Cohen, who contended that Recreate 68 is planning to engage in peaceful and nonviolent protests during the convention.
Sonic weapons?

You mean like the angry bongo drumming and repetitive chanting that will come from the protestors?

Don't want any police confrontation? Fulfill your promise of "peaceful and nonviolent protests." That way there will no need to say "don't tase me, bro!"

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