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Milwaukee to spend $40 million of security budget for DNC despite scaled down convention

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 19:55:27-04

MILWAUKEE — Even with a scaled-down Democratic National Convention (DNC), the City of Milwaukee plans to spend 80 percent of the security budget to hold the event, according to Mayor Tom Barrett.

Originally, the Democratic National Convention would have been happening right now in Milwaukee with the main event taking place at Fiserv Forum. 50,000 people were supposed to be in the city.

Now, the DNC will be held at the Wisconsin Center with a fraction of the visitors expected. However, the city is still planning for the possibility of large crowds, and to spend $40 million of a $50 million federal grant for security.

“They have approved the plan that if we need to spend that money we can spend that money,” Barrett said.

Barrett said if not all of the money is used, it will be returned to the Department of Justice.

“I don't want to be in a situation during that week where we don't have what we need. I would prefer to be in a situation where we have what's necessary and we don't use it,” Barrett said.

The city's website indicates how some of the money might be spent.

The purchasing division is seeking nearly two dozen bids for things like barricade fences, concrete barriers, tactical ballistic vests, cans of pepper spray, a tactical gas delivery system, and air-purifying respirator equipment, all for the "Democratic National Convention event.” 13 of their requests cost more than $50,000.

“My understanding is that that's in part a defensive system. If people are throwing things at the police, I don't want the police to be at a disadvantage,” Barrett said, referring to the tactical gas delivery system.

The Milwaukee Police Department released a statement to TMJ4 News regarding the bids saying in part that they "…[remain] committed to preparing for a safe, secure, and successful democratic national convention." … and “While the number of delegates attending has decreased, there is no indication there will be less members of the public that will be present in and around the event. “

Barrett said he is also interested in using some additional money for personal protective equipment and other pandemic issues that could come up at the convention. The DNC starts on August 17.

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