DENVER — The Denver City Council on Monday night approved spending up to $1.1 million on contracts for police uniforms and accessories, but the purchase of $60,000 for riot gear raised some eyebrows among council members.
The purchase, which represented about 10% of a $600,000 contract with the company Curtis Blue Line, includes the purchase of such gear as forearm protectors, shin guards, mission-specific gear bags, face shields and ballistic helmets.
The agreement allows the purchase of 100 of each item over the life of the contract.
>> Video above: Denver City Council OKs DPD contract terms between union, city in December 2020
The council also approved a $500,000 purchase order with Skaggs Companies for uniform items such as boots and outerwear, as well as shirts with the City of Denver logo. Each contract runs through November 2023 and gives the city an option for two one-year renewals.
Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer of District 5 voted to approve both resolutions, but she said she was startled to see what was referred to in a Finance & Governance committee presentation as "accessories" was called riot gear in the contract. Sawyer acknowledged they had heard details of the gear during the presentation.
“It's just the way that they were actually referred to in the contract was quite startling compared to how they were discussed in committee,” she said.
District 9 Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca cast the single “no” vote on the 12-1 approval of each contract.
“I hope that in the future we're not hiding the language of riot gear but in fact, making sure that we itemize and issue two contracts separately for your basic uniforms for police and riot gear,” she said. “I don't think it's appropriate to be issuing the purchase order for both of them together. We should have very distinct understandings of what is necessary on a day-to-day basis, and what is additional.”
District 2 Councilman Kevin Flynn disagreed, saying the contract amounts are the maximum the city will spend over the life of the agreements, and that the city is not required to spend all of the money. He said the contracts allow the purchase when an officer needs new equipment or a new officer joins the force.
“The fact is, we have police officers, and we need to have them in uniform and we need them to have equipment,” he said. “And so I think it's perfectly appropriate to have them in the same purchase order; (it) doesn't mean you have to purchase all of it, it just means that you have the authorization when needed to purchase them, and it's the right thing to do,” he said.
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