Mayor buying new police gear for summits

February 14, 2012 3:58:34 PM PST
Chicago Police are getting new protective gear for the upcoming G8 and NATO summits.

The gear will help protect officers dealing with protesters who march during the summits this spring. Officers will be wearing the new shields on the helmets of their riot gear.

New shields are something the police union has been pushing for since it was announced that Chicago will be hosting the summits.

While the old helmet and shield can still do the trick, police say it is not enough to protect officers in the event of huge protests at the G8 and NATO summits. So, at the request of the Fraternal Order of Police, the city has bought over $190,000 worth of state-of-the-art shields.

"The new facial shields have a rubber material in between the shield and the helmet, which will prevent any fluids from rolling down into the officers' eyes," said Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields.

In its first order, the city has bought just enough for over 3,000 officers. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says that is all the contractor would allow in one purchase. The FOP says all 9,500 Chicago Police officers should have one.

The police union is also concerned about the lack of training for the summits. So far, officers have received an eight-hour baton class.

"This is simply a way for the City of Chicago in a couple of years during litigation to say, 'Hey, we taught these officers how to use a nightstick, and it's on them,' but they are not really preparing for the potential of what typically occurs at G8 and NATO summits," said Shields.

"I'm personally going to be standing with those officers on those days. I am personally responsible to ensure that they have adequate equipment and adequate training," McCarthy said. "Right now there is a lot of misinformation that is going on out there. I'm going to have to straighten that out internally. I'm not going to engage in a debate through the press."

The FOP also blames the city for last minute planning. The city says it began to plan as soon as Chicago was named the host last summer.