Harrisburg City Council to Vote on Police Department’s Riot Gear: Five Things to Know

Captain Deric Moody, Police Chief Thomas Carter and Captain Gabriel Olivera (from right to left) at Harrisburg City Council

Harrisburg City Council will be voting on new riot gear uniforms as requested by the Harrisburg Police Department tomorrow.  The City Council meeting will begin at 6:30.  Here are 5 things to know.

How many and how much?

The Harrisburg Police Department is asking for 30 new head to toe riot gear uniforms and the sticks and shields that go along with them.  This will cost the city $65,000.

Riot Gear or Protective Sports Gear?

Harrisburg police officials are using Orwellian rhetoric to change the definition and meaning of “riot gear.”  At a July city council hearing, Harrisburg Police Chief Thomas Carter and Captains Derek Moody and Gabriel Olivera used the term “protective gear” at least fourteen times before rushing out of the hearing to head to a protest outside of ABC 27’s headquarters, where Senator Pat Toomey was doing a televised town hall.

Chief Carter compared the “protective gear” to the gear a catcher would wear when playing baseball.  He told council “it is no more than a protective chest vest, a face mask for a foul ball and some shin guards.  That’s all it is.”  Captain Derek Moody compared the requested riot gear to playing football.   Moody told council “you have adequate protection.  Not to compare this to a sport, but you would have adequate protection to protect you in the event that you were to be struck, hit, whatever.” 

When will it be used?

Chief Carter and Captains Moody and Olivera all alluded that the request for upgrading the city’s riot gear supplies was due to the recent uptick in protests and counter protests the city has seen since the Trump campaign and electoral college victory.

Captain Moody told city council that “he’s never experienced so many protests during his 25 years as a police officer” and “as a capital city, we will continue to see more and more people come here to exercise their rights.”

At a November protest that included neo-Nazi’s on the capitol steps and counter protesters on State Street, Moody stated that “[counter protesters] showed up with grocery carts filled with rocks and rotten tomatoes that were injected with a chemical that irritated officers.”  This claim was never reported in the media until police officials made their budget proposal to city council in June.

Just for Antifa Protesters? 

Most likely, no.  It appears that the riot gear will available at any possible protest.  As mentioned above, Chief Carter and Captains Moody and Olivera left July city council hearing before finishing their presentation to respond to protesters outside of Senator Toomey’s televised town hall at the ABC 27 studios.  Before they left for the protest, Cheif Carter told city council:

As of recent we did use it several times.  When Trump came here twice, we used it.  That was a hostile situation for us.  Now, the [Senator Toomey] is up on 6th street.  It’s a potential for violence there.  Protesters there.  Just recently at the capitol, we didn’t have any but if the young lady would have hit a police officer in the throat like she did with the horse with the nail in the board, she would have killed him because we had no protective gear.

Who Will Be There?

The meeting will begin at 6:30 and community members plan on being there.  One of the groups planning on attending includes the newly formed Harrisburg Democratic Socialists of America, and they released leaflets stating:

Harrisburg Police are asking City Council for $65,000 in funds to be allocated towards the purchasing of 30 new riot gear suits.  They claim that the need for riot gear is necessary to double down on resistance in the current political climate.  However, studies have shown that political demonstrations are more likely to turn violent with the presence of militarized police gear.  Let’s let Harrisburg police know that we do not want more violence in our city!


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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to sean@rcpress.org or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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