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Federal Government Buys Riot Gear, Increases Security Funding, Citing Coronavirus Pandemic

SACRAMENTO,CACHP officers wearing riot gear line the edge of the CA state capitol grouds after removing protesters on Friday, May 1, 2020. Over 1,500 people attending a rally at the capitol in Sacramento asking for the civil liberties and the opening of the economy, closed due to the coronavirus.   (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Officers wearing riot gear line the edge of the California state capitol grounds after removing protesters on May 1, 2020. Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BUYS RIOT GEAR, INCREASES SECURITY FUNDING, CITING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

THE FEDERAL government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”

The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”

The Veterans Affairs department, which manages nearly 1,500 health care care facilities around the country, has also extended special contracts for coronavirus-related security services.

Redcon Solutions Group, a private security company founded by Iraq War veterans, has won over $1.6 million in contracts to provide guards for “Covid-19 screening security guard services.” Similar contracts have gone out to private security firms to guard VA facilities in San FranciscoDes Moines, and Fayetteville, among others.

The increased security contracts appeared shortly after a recent Inspector General report noted an increase in absenteeism among VA employees and shortages among VA police. The IG report noted that there is “additional strain caused by the need for additional police presence for COVID-19-related screenings” of veterans at all VA health facilities and recommended the hiring of contract security services.

The VA police, as The Intercept previously reported, was not armed until 2011, when the Pentagon began providing military equipment to police forces around the country.

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