This is one of the 2,000 suits of body armor issued by the Cleveland Police Department to its officers in the run-up to the 2016 Republican National Convention. These suits were paid for through a $50 million National Special Security Event federal grant.
Investment in suits like this one, which VICE had access to thanks to a source, are just one of the many ways the department appears to be bracing for a contentious convention by militarizing with war-ready equipment. In addition to scores of new batons, tactical armor, rifle scopes, and patrol bicycles, the CPD has also been loaned three armored response and rescue vehicles and increased their protest insurance from $9.5 to 50 million.
For security purposes, police departments like Cleveland's generally don't reveal all of the new equipment they have in their repertoire. Likely the only way we'll find out if the city has acquired the tear gas it reportedly requested is if something goes terribly wrong at the convention. The CPD's caginess extends to tactical strategies: In the wake of the mass shooting of Dallas police officers early this month by gunman Micah Johnson, the city has reportedly revamped how it plans to respond to similar threats during the RNC—of course, the nature of that revamp is a secret.
Although there is always a potential for violence at political events and conventions, this election cycle has proven to be one of the most divisive in recent memory, and high-profile police shootings and attacks on officers have only heightened the national sense of tension.
Whether this particular suit of body armor is used during the convention will depend in large part on the behavior of the tens of thousands of attendees and protesters descending upon the city. But how these suits get used will be up to individual officers.
The Cleveland Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. This post will be updated if it does.
Scroll down to see photos. The images have been slightly altered to protect the source.