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Chicago Buys New Riot and Surveillance Gear for NATO/G8

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 14, 2012 4:25PM

Riot gear like what this Illinois State Trooper wore in 2009 is getting an upgrade in time for the NATO/G8 summits. (Image Credit: El Moco)
Chicago police officers will receive brand new face shields which will fit easily over gas masks and seal out any incoming liquids, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Emanuel administration awarded a contract worth nearly $200,000 to a Colorado company for the purchase of more than 3,000 new face shields. The contract comes as part of the city's new authority to purchase goods and services for the NATO/G8 summits in May without competitive bidding or City Council approval.

According to Fraternal Order of Police President Michael Shields, 3,000 new helmets might not be enough. Because the old helmets are thinner, weaker and liquid can seep through them, Shields would like all of the city's 9,500 patrol officers to have new equipment. He told the Sun-Times “Rioters known to attend NATO and G-8 meetings have been known to throw bags of urine and bags of feces at police. Chicago Police officers need a shield that can adapt to what is being thrown at them.”

To our knowledge, no protesters plan on bringing any kind of scatological materials to the demonstrations in May. Furthermore, while cursory searching found plenty of speculation, rumor and hyperbole about such instances, we have yet to find any actual hard evidence outside of commentary. To the contrary, a civil liberties advocate told an independent news website in December “This is part of a spectrum of information war strategies that the state uses to repress dissent.”

In addition to shiny new helmets for the summits, Chicago Police will have their helicopters equipped with new surveillance gear, along with helicopters from the fire department. In a press release, a company called Vislink announced yesterday:

The airborne units will transmit to four strategically located ground-based receiver sites providing city-wide coverage and the ability to simultaneously receive real-time images from two aircraft for viewing at the OEMC operations center. An additional three receive systems will be installed in the city’s mobile command vehicles to facilitate field operations.