MPD bids for equipment for DNC pulled after concerns from Common Council members
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Bids the Milwaukee Police Department had issued for equipment for the DNC were pulled Wednesday, June 10, after concerns from some Common Council members.
Alderman Nic Kovac said a citizen reached out to him with concerns about the items the Milwaukee Police Department was trying to get bids on. Those items included tactical gas delivery system, gas masks and equipment, and aerosol projector irritant, according to Kovac and the City's Purchasing Director Rhonda Kelsey.
"I'm opposed to using them any time, especially on peaceful protesters, and so are many people," said Kovac, who has concerns with the response from the department with protesters near 6th and McKinley last week.
"They're doing the opposite of protecting anyone by using a chemical weapon on city streets," he said.
Kovac said he shared his concerns with Kelsey, who appeared before the Finance and Personnel Committee Wednesday.
She told the members on that committee that the bids were for items for the DNC.
"It is a part of the federal grant that we received from the DOJ, obviously things have evolved, but we certainly do, again, have the opportunity to pull it and not move forward in executing a contract," Kelsey said.
Kelsey said the bids were pulled after support from Mayor Barrett.
In response, the Milwaukee Police Department issued a statement that said:
The Milwaukee Police Department has been working diligently over the past fifteen months to provide a safe and secure event for the Democratic National Convention. MPD was notified this afternoon that the bid requests for key safety equipment necessary for the Democratic National Convention has been removed by the Purchasing Department due to pressures by members of the Common Council without any input from the Secret Service, Milwaukee Police Department or any other law enforcement agency.
The bids to be submitted by the City of Milwaukee Purchasing Department were requested by the Milwaukee Police Department in February and March 2020. MPD had no role in the timing of the bids being released and the requests are in no way a response to the recent incidents that have occurred both locally and nationally.
The Democratic National Convention and the thousands of participants visiting Milwaukee deserve a safe and successful event, which requires certain protective and tactical equipment. It is a standard request for most, if not all, law enforcement agencies called upon to provide security at a national security special event. The personal protective equipment and other devices that have been denied because of the Common Council are used to protect the community against armed suspects, hostage situations and active shooters.
For the protection of the Democratic National Convention, the thousands of participants and the residents of the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Police Department asks that the Common Council reconsider this course of action.
Alderwoman Milele Coggs said Wednesday she had introduced legislation that would require the Milwaukee Police Department to disclose its current inventory of military-grade equipment and to notify the Council before it could buy any more of that equipment.
“We have seen questionable tactics used by Milwaukee police during the recent protests against injustices, including smoke grenades to disperse peaceful protesters,” Coggs said in a press release, "In the spirit of transparency and accountability with the public, I believe it is important for the Council to be aware of the kinds of militaristic equipment that MPD is planning to purchase with taxpayer dollars. I look forward to having this discussion in public very soon with my colleagues and representatives from MPD."