Harrisburg Police asking for $65,000 for updated protective riot gear

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A shield, a helmet, a stick and sometimes a gas mask is all that currently protects Harrisburg police officers during a protest or rally.

Harrisburg Police Captain Deric Moody said, "If you look at our normal load out, there's nothing really protecting us outside of that little, tiny shield."

Moody said now the department wants a change and is asking city council for $65,000 in reallocation to help purchase between 30-40 sets of new riot gear.

They want gear similar to what Capitol Police use, which covers more of the officer's body and provides more protection.

Sgt. Arin Cuccia, with Capitol Police, said, "The initial expense might be shocking at first. It is invaluable to the agency to put their officers and keep them safe."

Moody said there has been an increase in the number of protests in the capital city.

Moody said, "The potential for escalation of violence is always present."

At these protests, police said people will sometimes throw bottles, rocks, and Moody said in one instance State Police were hit with fruit filled with chemicals.

"As they were being hit by this debris with their horses, their skin started burning," Moody said.

When you compare Harrisburg's gear to State or Capitol Police gear during a protest, the difference in level of protection is evident.

Both Capitol and Harrisburg Police emphasize all the gear would not need to be worn at every protest and that more updated riot gear is for everyone's safety.

Cuccia said, "The gear looks threatening, but the officers are not. They're very highly trained to respond to these instances."

Moody said, "It's time for us to come up to the modern-day technology to provide the best possible protection for our officers, so they can give the best service to the people that are attending these events."

City council is expected to consider the budget reallocation at their next meeting, on June 27th.