The gas masks come from a $81,958 “urban area security” grant, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. DHS’ grant program came into focus in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., during which local police used military-grade equipment to try to disperse crowds of people.
The grant for the masks is part of $51.8 million that was allocated by DHS for the D.C. metro region in 2012. The gas masks were purchased from a subset of grant money allocated to the Alexandria Police Department, according to Arlington County staff, “to increase response capabilities of tactical teams” in the region. The County Board is scheduled to vote on the grant at its regular meeting this Saturday.
Alexandria has already purchased the masks and “related equipment,” the report says, and ACPD is simply waiting for Board approval before it can receive the masks. The masks are required for the ACPD to be considered a Type 1 tactical response team for responding to disasters, “including terrorism.”
The ACPD says there’s no known cost for maintaining the masks, which have a lifespan of 20 years. After 20 years, the county may have to pay for new masks from its own budget if it hopes for ACPD to maintain Type 1 status, according to the staff report.