2019 Surplus Items List Shows GPD Chemical Weapons Arsenal

As recently as the spring of 2019, the Geneva Police Department was in possession of dozens of tear gas grenades and shells, more than 100 containers of pepper spray, and other crowd control weapons. Do they need it? And do they still have such an arsenal?

In April 2019, the Geneva, NY City Council voted for the “disposal” of a list of expired and/or unused equipment from the Geneva Police Department. This list of items indicated that the Geneva Police Department had obtained a surprising arsenal of chemical weapons and other riot gear.

When two city councilors questioned the police’s need, in a city of less than 13,000, for crowd control chemical weapons and whether the GPD planned to replace the items on the list, they were met with laughter and jokes, and received no definitive answers to their questions.

(stock photo, not GPD)

Is the Geneva Police Department still in possession of a large stockpile of tear gas shells, grenades and pepper spray?

“Do we really need it?”

Back on April 3, 2019, during the Geneva City Council meeting, a routine “Resolution Declaring Certain Items As Surplus and Directing Disposal” was on the evening’s agenda for discussion and vote.

As explained by Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers:

“We go through this a couple times a year, where the police department goes through their inventory and things that are expired or can no longer be used…we sell what we can, and we destroy what we cannot sell.”

Although city council votes on these types of surplus requests fairly frequently, this list of items was particularly unusual.

Tear gas shells

(Note: CS and CN gas = tear gas, oleoresin capsicum spray=pepper spray)

2014 Dodge Charger, VIN# 2C3CDXAG4EH233313   1
Revolver Grenade Kit   1
CS gas shells   17
#14 CN gas 37mm grenades   6
#21S white smoke 37mm grenades   4
#14P white smoke 37mm grenade   1
#21 CN gas 37mm grenades   2
#12 CN gas 37mm grenades   2
#19 CN gas 37mm grenade   1
#19 CS gas 37mm grenade   1
12 Gauge grenade launching shells   43
12 Gauge CN gas shells   10
12 Gauge short grenade launching shells   25
CS grenades large bore   5
TruFlite CS gas grenade   6
CS grenades 37mm long range   3
37mm Goliath tear gas grenades   3
Oleoresin capsicum spray   120
Manondock PR batons – straight   24
ABA ballistic vest s/n 06159347   1
PACA ballistic vest s/n RC048659   1
PACA ballistic vest s/n RC020507   1
20 round M4 magazine   1
30 round M4 magazine   4
Trijicon night sights   4
Gould and Goodrich Radio case   1
Uncle Mikes Leg Holsters   3
Safariland leather holster   1
Blackhawk SERPA holster   1
Blackhawk SERPA paddle (no holster)   1
Springfield .22 rifle   1
Excelsior 12 Gauge shotgun   1
20 Gauge shotgun spring   1
Blackhawk SERPA holster   8

Tear gas grenade

Steve Valentino, the Ward 3 City Councilor at the time (and current Mayor of Geneva), had some comments and questions about the items on the list:

“A lot of that stuff kind of took me by surprise. It looks like riot gear, in a lot of ways, with riot control gas and things like that. And I guess my question is, have we ever used any of that? Do we buy it and then surplus it? And is it something, moving forward, that we consider necessary? I think its something I’d like, you know, the (police) chief to kinda…you know, if we buy it every five years and we sell it every five years, do we really need it?”

After Valentino’s concerns were met with jokes and laughter, Ward 4 Councilor Ken Camera asked :

“So, you’re assuring us that we’re not buying more grenades because these wore out?”

to which Blowers offered a non-committal reply:

“Presently, there’s no grenades slated for purchase.”

Watch video of the exchange (including the cross-talk, jokes and laughter) at the following link:

Geneva City Council Meeting 4/3/19 – Surplus Police Equipment Discussion

Chemical Weapons For GPD

Both tear gas and pepper spray are classified as chemical weapons, and both are used for crowd control. Both are also illegal for use in military warfare.

CN and CS tear gas causes “severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding and blindness.”

Pepper spray‘s “inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision….It also causes temporary discomfort and burning of the lungs which causes shortness of breath.”

White smoke grenades aren’t defined as chemical weapons but also used for crowd control, and are said to “provide a wall of visual distraction.”

Pepper spray used by police at WTO protests, 11-30-99
Is the GPD Still Purchasing Riot Control Chemical Weapons?

The Geneva Police Department has not filed an annual report since 2018, even though Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalacqua pledged in 2018 to make the department more “transparent” prior to his appointment as chief.

Regardless, the GPD’s annual reports, as well as Geneva’s annual budget documents, fail to disclose what kinds of military or riot control equipment the department has purchased.

If the Geneva Police Department wants to claim that they are “transparent,” then they need to provide the public with a frequently updated list of how much tear gas, pepper spray, and related riot gear they have in their possession, and the cost of that equipment.

More importantly, Chief Passalacqua needs to explain why his department would ever need to stockpile hundreds of canisters and grenades full of tear gas and pepper spray.

Geneva Police Chief Mike Passalacqua




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