FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sue Cobb, 720-865-9016
Denver Provides Budget Overview For DNC Security Equipment
Transparency Reaffirms Denver’s Commitment to Free Speech & Public Safety
(DENVER) The City and County of Denver provided a broad overview Wednesday of the security-related equipment budget proposals for the Democratic National Convention. While continuing to be careful to avoid compromising public safety, the City voluntarily shared summary information of the equipment-related expenditures funded by the $50 million that Congress appropriated to both Convention host cities for security personnel, training, equipment and supplies.
“Our priority is to keep Denver open for business and to ensure the convention is a historic, memorable and safe celebration for all,” said Mayor John Hickenlooper. “This budget overview reaffirms to the public our goal to provide the most effective and comprehensive security possible while maintaining an event that is inclusive and enjoyable for all.”
Contrary to conspiracy theories that caused concern for the American Civil Liberties Union, City officials made it clear that none of the equipment purchases include – or were ever intended to include – non-lethal weapons that discharge “slime” or “goo” to immobilize persons or vehicles or that use microwaves or sonic waves to induce pain or discomfort in targets. In light of the information voluntarily shared by the City, the ACLU agreed to cancel a scheduled court hearing and wait until after the DNC to revisit its claims for more detailed information about the City security-related equipment expenditures. All security-related purchases for the Democratic National Convention comply with the City and County of Denver’s procurement rules, including City Council approval of capital equipment purchases over $50,000 and contracts over $500,000.
Denver police officers already undergo extensive training in a variety of areas on an ongoing basis. As part of federally-funded preparations for the Democratic National Convention, officers are undergoing 30 hours of additional mission-specific training programs where appropriate.
“For officers that will be involved in crowd management, the training focuses on how to facilitate the safe movement of crowds throughout downtown,” explained Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman. “The emphasis is not on arresting people, but on gaining voluntary compliance with requests that enable everyone to safely exercise their First Amendment rights. Our police officers have always had – and continue to have – a range of options available to them when responding to unlawful activities, whether during large events or normal daily life. The preference is always to gain voluntary compliance with requests that aim to ensure public safety and everyone’s ability to safely exercise their First Amendment rights.”
The Denver Police Department does not have a “mandatory arrest” policy for violations during the Democratic National Convention or any other time. Unless required by law - such as in the case of domestic violence - a Denver police officer has the discretion to ask for voluntary compliance, deliver a warning, issue a citation or make an arrest based on the totality of circumstances. In many cases, individuals voluntarily comply with requests and officers are able to peacefully stop unlawful activities without any legal actions. In the context of peaceful demonstrations, arrests are a last option - used when all other options have been exhausted or imminent safety concerns are involved. While the City does not anticipate the need for widespread arrests, the budget overview reflects the City’s obligation to plan and prepare for their possibility given the volume of people anticipated to attend the Convention.
“Thanks to the dedicated men and women of the Denver Police Department and other City agencies, Denver has a long record of successfully hosting large events, including the World Series, the NBA All Star Game, the G-8 Summit, a visit from the Pope, and numerous large-scale sporting events and celebrations; we look forward to adding the Democratic National Convention to this esteemed list,” said Whitman. “We understand that dialogues and assemblies will happen in many venues, including the Convention hall, caucus rooms, public events, parks, sidewalks and other public spaces. Our community, our City officials, and our law enforcement personnel are committed both to ensuring public safety and to supporting the rights of people to express their views safely and in a manner that respects the rights of others along with local, state and federal laws.”
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