The U.S. federal government has purchased a trove of riot gear because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Sunday report from the Intercept alleged.
The government has also reportedly "ramped up security and police-related spending" to combat the coronavirus in the U.S.
What are the details?
The government reportedly requisitioned "disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves" as well as extra personal protective equipment for federal law enforcement officers who are to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The U.S. Veterans Affairs department manages approximately 1,500 health care facilities across the U.S.
The outlet notes that the items were "expedited" under an authorization provisioned to tamp down the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Redcon Solutions Group, a private security company founded by Iraq War veterans, has won over $1.6 million in contracts to provide guards for 'Covid-19 screening security guard services,'" the outlet reported.
Further, the newly won contracts emerged after a recent Inspector General report pointed out a rise in VA employees — including VA police — not showing up for work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the Intercept reported, "Between 2005 and 2014, VA police departments acquired millions of dollars' worth of body armor, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and other weapons and tactical gear."
"The OIG found that forces at roughly three out of every four facilities were not receiving timely inspections," the report added. "Further, the sparse data collected on police activities was not tracked or assessed in any systematic or rigorous way."
In March, the U.S. government approved the CARES Act, which authorized stimulus payments to U.S. citizens amid the outbreak.
The outlet reported that the act also "authorized $850 million for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program," which is a federal grant program to better physically equip law enforcement professionals during the crisis. Such funds were allocated to local governments in order to "defray expenses related to emergency policing."