I-Team: Cleveland police say new riot gear doesn’t fit

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CLEVELAND- The Cleveland police union says some new riot gear doesn’t fit some officers, and this led the FOX 8 I-Team to investigate.

The I-Team got the first look at some new Cleveland riot gear, protection for officers likely to serve on the front lines if any serious trouble breaks out.

The union has been screaming for the city to speed up the process of buying new equipment for the Republican National Convention. But the union president says the riot gear comes in two sizes. Steve Loomis says, “I’m not trying to be obstructionist here, but this stuff has gotta fit.” He added, “We have some smaller police officers. We have some larger police officers that this stuff is never, ever, gonna be able to fit.”

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Officers have also expressed concern about trouble wearing their gun belts with the new gear.

Cleveland city leaders had said they hoped to have all of the new security equipment in by the end of May. But that hasn’t happened.

Meantime, we wanted to get a gauge of how Cleveland Police preparations are coming along. So the I-Team reached out to Philadelphia Police. Officers there will protect the Democratic National Convention the week after the Republican Convention here.

Philadelphia sent us an email saying it has not received new equipment such as special radios or technology to test clouds of chemicals in the air. While Cleveland is bringing in thousands of outside police officers to help during the Convention week here, Philadelphia says it is not. A statement says, “We will be working with local, state, and federal agencies; we have no plans to bring in any other police agencies to assist with this event.”

Last week, Cleveland city leaders said again and again, don’t worry. Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said, “We will be prepared. We are prepared, and we are trained.”

As for the concerns with the new gear, Dan Williams, Director of Media Relations, said in an e-mail, “The vendor is assisting in the fitting, and to my knowledge, no complaints, so far.”

Though the union president says, “What we get in is what we’re gonna be stuck with, and I’m gonna have guys and gals out there that aren’t gonna have equipment that’s gonna fit them.”

The Republican Convention still won’t happen for more than a month. While some see that as time to continue to tweak and firm everything up, others point out the city has not yet even received other important equipment yet.