Published on Saturday, June 3, 2000 in the Los Angeles Times
Tom Hayden Questions $4 Million For LAPD's Democratic Convention 'Crowd Control' Gear
by Dan Morain
 
SACRAMENTO - A state senator Friday called for a new hearing on a $4-million request by the California Highway Patrol to pay for crowd control at the Democratic National Convention, while the head of the CHP said he was surprised to learn about some of the items included in the budget request.

D.O. "Spike" Helmick said a two-page request for crowd control equipment that is part of the $4 million came from the Los Angeles Police Department, and that when he appeared before a Senate budget committee two weeks ago seeking the money, he believed it was primarily for personnel and some equipment. He was not aware of what the equipment was, he said.

"This is clearly a list submitted to us by LAPD," Helmick said Friday after being shown a detailed listing of the LAPD's request.

The list includes a paper shredder and mountain climbing equipment, as well as pepper spray and tear gas and guns to launch the canisters.

Law enforcement officials have expressed concerns that the convention, to be held in Los Angeles, could be the site of protests like those earlier this year in Seattle and Washington. Some have warned that there could be terrorist attacks.

However, Helmick said little of the equipment appears vital to the CHP's main mission during the convention: keeping freeways open and ensuring that dignitaries can get to and from the convention safely.

"I haven't got a clue why they would ask for that [paper shredder]," Helmick said. "I will find out."

A Los Angeles police spokeswoman said she was unaware of the rationale. "We're directing all calls about that to the CHP. They're the ones handling it," Capt. Sharyn Buck said Friday.

The list also includes gas guns that shoot beanbag-like projectiles used to control demonstrators.

The CHP budget request includes bomb detection equipment and protective vests, plus 39 video cameras and 39 bolt and pipe cutters used to dislodge protesters who chain themselves to poles.

The CHP and LAPD are among the law enforcement agencies represented in regular planning meetings for the convention. But Helmick said he does not know why the LAPD requisition list was given to the CHP, why many of the items were included or why state money is being sought.

"They're clearly going to have to explain it, or the question will be revisited, I can assure you," Helmick said.

Helmick said that as far as he is concerned, none of the material will be "utilized unless it is absolutely necessary. These folks have a right to be heard."

The CHP's request is one of thousands buried in the $100-billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. It attracted Sen. Tom Hayden's attention because he sits on a budget subcommittee that oversees the CHP, and because of his history of being put on trial for leading protests at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.

The Los Angeles Democrat said the police request suggests they will overreact to protesters at the convention in Los Angeles, and he wrote a letter Friday calling on the Legislature's budget committee to reopen discussions about the $4-million item.

"The request was made in a way that smacks of being covert," Hayden said.

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