Congress gave Tampa and Charlotte police $50 million each to keep America's egg-throwing anarchists at bay during the Republican and Democratic conventions. Turns out, both cities got quite a lot of bang for their buck.
Local authorities have assembled a powerful mix of armored trucks, aerial drones, EOD X-ray machines, bobcat vehicles and other big ticket machinery to maintain the peace during what the Department of Homeland Security has declared "national special security events." Here's what authorities in Tampa and Charlotte will be using for the Republican and Democratic conventions:
Ground Drones Ever seen one of these? What you have here is the Wraith by United Drones. It's an unmanned ground vehicle that will be roaming the streets of Tampa next week serving as the police department's eyes and ears. They can cruise up to 65 mph and climb almost anything, as The Tampa Tribune's Howard Altman explains:
The Wraiths ... have the capability of carrying surveillance cameras and even lethal and non-lethal weapons. "They are fully autonomous backup units," [engineer Curt] Winter said of the Wraiths. "They are designed to follow certain agencies out into the field and, if they get into trouble, be activated by a command center and provide instant backup."
Bobcat Vehicles The Tampa police also spent $790,000 for a range of new vehicles. According to ABC News' Julie Percha, that includes several bobcat utility vehicles. To the right, an armored bobcat arrives on the scene of a grand theft investigation
Fancy Bikes According to Percha's report, the department also bought 200 Kona Race Light 7005 aluminium bikes (They look pretty sturdy.)
Aerial Drones No longer just used in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, United Drones' 4 1/2-foot-wide Aether Aero, a tiny-looking helicopter drone, will be provide "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to government agencies" during the Tampa convention, reports The Tribune. "It is equipped with a 109x optical zoom camera, can lift up to 50 pounds and is so light it can be picked up with two fingers."
Armored Trucks These bad boys will also be deployed in Tampa. As a part of the $50 million budget, armored trucks are perfect for breaking up barricades of protesters. As for the Charlotte Police, ABC reports that the city used " more than $146,000 of its grant for new wheels -- including brand new Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford F-250s and leased Harley-Davidson police motorcycles."
EOD X-Ray Machines Local authorities will also be carrying around these portable, high-tech x-ray machines that cost $64,325 each. "The portable machine will allow a squad of trained explosives officers to check questionable boxes at the convention for a "quick and safe response to unattended packages," according to the department," reports ABC.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.