Cities divide their spending between protective gear for officers and less-than-lethal weapons to hurt protesters. Cities take varying approaches with their money.
We’ve seen the lines of police at protests donning head to toe armor, batons and/or launchers at the ready, glowering down at protesters through face shields. How much does all that gear cost? According to the early returns on requests for information on riot gear budgeting requests, quite a lot, Muckrock reports. The Austin Police Department, for example, has spent about $1.1 million in the last five years on everything from bean bag launchers, smoke grenades, and pepper spray launchers, to plated body armor, helmets with protective visors and throat guards, and aluminum batons.
El Paso and Denver police also spent a little over $1.1 million dollars each. El Paso seems to have spent more on gas masks and rubber bullets than other police departments that has responded so far, along with lots of armor, and lots of different delivery mechanisms for hurting people, such as tear gas, pepper spray, and flash bang grenades. Like the other departments, it’s a split between protective gear and less lethal weapons, with San Jose spending less than its peers on weaponry, and more on body armor. Nearby Oakland police appear to have spent a small fraction of that amount. The only documentation provided was a $104,000 bill from February of this year for SWAT team replacement uniforms. How much is too much riot gear? It’s hard to say, but most of this equipment really has very few applications beyond large protests.