West Valley City police forming unit to handle riots, unruly crowds
West Valley City • With several venues that draw big crowds to events, officials in this west-side suburb want to be prepared for anything, including a riot.
So the West Valley City Police Department plans to use a federal grant of nearly $100,000 to fund a police civil disturbance unit. The money will be used to equip 30 officers for crowd control assignments and to purchase intelligence gathering equipment.
The department's application for a $98,674 Justice Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice states that when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, West Valley police officers were trained and equipped with riot gear "in anticipation of a potential need due to spectators attending the events."
Because of budget constraints, the department has not been able to maintain the necessary training to handle an unruly crowd and many officers don't have the proper protective equipment, the application states. It notes that Maverik Center, USANA Amphitheater and Rocky Mountain Raceway serve alcohol at most events, "which leads to a potential for large scale problems."
Equipment will cost about $2,000 an officer and consist of gas masks and filters, Kevlar helmets and Kevlar protection for the chest, arms, groin, thighs, shins and feet. Also to be purchased are Colt AR-15 tactical rifles at a cost of approximately $850 each.
In addition, the grant will pay for monitoring equipment, such as "wireless covert devices" to bug rooms and a recon rover, which is a radio-controlled camera mounted on a frame that can travel over different types of terrain.
"Most of this equipment is capable of providing real time surveillance," the application states, "thus improving officer safety by providing the most current status of target locations."