We’ve all 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. But how much does all that gear cost? According to the early returns on riot gear budgeting requests we have been filing, quite a lot.
Responding to our recent request for mobile phone forensic tools records, Denver Police Department has provided us with not only contracts, but a training bulletin for their Cellebrite Universal Forensic Extraction Device. Cellebrite’s UFED, as the device is more commonly known, is the leading model of mobile phone data extraction tools in law enforcement.
Records show Denver Police sought a $480 thousand grant from Homeland Security to develop a counterterror program targeting communities it identifies as “at-risk” of violent extremism, which include Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ groups, and refugees.
We’ve sent requests to police departments around the country for their incident reports, threat assessments, and any other records we can get surrounding the law enforcement response to the protests surging through American cities. While most of our requests are still processing, what we have received illustrates how remarkably unprepared some law enforcement was for demonstrations of this scope.
By April 29, 2015, the country had had over a week of Baltimore riots and national protests after the arrest, injury, and death of Freddie Gray. In Denver, bystanders captured the chants of marching citizens and police efforts to contain them, including the blast of pepper spray on the streets near the Capitol that caught a child in the face. But of the minutes comprised of mace and arrests, the DPD’s official footage only contains 25 shaky seconds, mostly of pavement.