Feds Ramp up Purchase of Riot Gear in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic
by Douglas Ankney
In preparation for what may aptly be described as “Mad Max Meets COVID-19,” the federal government has submitted “expedited purchase orders” for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, riot gloves, and other protective equipment for the federal police assigned to guard Veterans Affairs (“VA”) facilities.
According to a May 17, 2020, report from theintercept.com, the special purchases were “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”
The VA police officers were not armed until 2011 — when the Pentagon began providing military equipment to police forces around the country.
Since then, those officers have “acquired millions of dollars’ worth of body armor, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and other weapons and tactical gear,” according to a 2019 report from The Intercept.
The VA, which manages nearly 1,500 health-care facilities around the U.S., has also extended special contracts for coronavirus-related security services. More than $1.6 million in contracts has been awarded to Redcon Solutions Group (a private security company founded by Iraq War veterans) to provide guards for “Covid-19 screening security guard services.” Similar contracts have been awarded to other private security firms to guard VA facilities in San Francisco, Des Moines, Fayetteville, and elsewhere.
Additionally, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package that was passed in March 2020 included $850 million for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program. These funds are used by local governments to pay for police overtime and medical personal protective equipment, unmanned aerial aircraft, security cameras, command center software, video analytics systems, training, and supplies for detention centers.
Ironically, during this same period of time, the U.S. has experienced a historic drop in violent crime. Apparently, the Feds believe this is the proverbial calm before the storm.