TAMPA — The City Council Thursday approved $829,000 more in police spending for the Republican National Convention, most of it for gas masks.
Council members voted 6-1 to pay $518,460 for 1,400 gas masks and accessories, including 20 with "voice projection units." Mary Mulhern opposed the purchase, saying it did not set "a great tone for our expectations for the convention."
The council also voted unanimously to spend:
• $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.
• $225,063 for 225 tactical communications headsets, plus accessories and three days of training. This gear is different from the police radios the city already plans to buy for the convention, and it comes with plug-in radio adapters.
The manufacturer, CavCom, specializes in two-way communications gear for workers who are in noisy places or who have to wear 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.
Money for the purchases will come from Tampa's $50 million federal convention security grant. With Thursday's approvals, slightly more than $15.5 million of the grant has been committed.
Also Thursday, the council approved 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.
Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.