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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Next Tampa police spending for RNC: gas masks, communications headsets, T-shirts

The Tampa City Council next week will consider making three more police purchases for the Republican National Convention:

• $518,460 for 1,400 gas masks and accessories, including 20 “voice projection units.” The supplier, Dawson Associates of Lawrenceville, Ga., was the lower of two bidders. The higher bid was $798,565 from National Safety Supply of Frederick, Md.

• $225,063 for 225 tactical communications headsets, plus accessories and three days of training. This gear is different from the police radios that the city already plans to buy for the convention, but it comes with plug-in radio adapters. The manufacturer, CavCom, specializes in two-way communications gear for workers who are in noisy environments or have to use gas masks. The supplier is Safeware Inc. of Landover, Md., which already is selling the city $1.9 million in helmets, face shields, body armor and other protective gear for the convention.

• $85,580 for 17,400 short- and long-sleeved, all-cotton printed T-shirts to outfit the coalition of local and out-of-town officers working the convention. The supplier is Tampa T-Shirts, which has an existing contract to supply work clothing for the city.

Money for the purchases would come from Tampa’s $50 million federal convention security grant.

The council is scheduled to vote on this spending Thursday -- the same day it is expected to take a second and final vote on an ordinance establishing ground rules for protesters at the convention.

One of those rules is a ban on protesters carrying gas masks inside the city’s proposed “Event Zone,” which covers downtown, Ybor City and several neighboring areas. City officials say the ban is needed because if police use tear gas to clear an area, allowing demonstrators to wear gas masks could force officers to resort to even harsher methods.

But critics, including at least one council member, have questioned the ban, saying that innocent bystanders who aren’t causing trouble would be left defenseless to the use of chemical agents.

“I find it troubling that people don’t have a way to protect themselves,” said Anne O’Berry, southern regional vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, who noted that she was speaking for herself and not for the guild.

[Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 3:20pm]

    

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