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'Urban Shield' Event In Oakland Shines Light On Police Militarization

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Law enforcement agencies from around the world are convening in the Bay Area for the five-day Urban Shield event.

The conference showcases the latest law enforcement equipment, which many say is just shining a spotlight on police militarization.

Barricades were posted around the Marriott in downtown Oakland where the trade show started Thursday morning. It's probably one of the most secure buildings in the Bay Area right now as law enforcement from around the world are on site.

But Oakland civil rights lawyer and mayoral candidate Dan Siegel did not extend a warm welcome.

"Urban shield is an effort to further militarize police departments in Alameda County and it is certainly something that we don't need," he said.

Current Mayor Jean Quan didn't want to address the issue and walked away.

Inside the trade show, there were armored vehicles and high-powered guns, but also new technology for jobs like search and rescue.

"We have a lot of tools and equipment here that obviously help keep us safe and do our job better," said Alameda County Lt. Justin McComas. "Some of that requires that we protect ourselves in an an up-armored way."

In anticipation of possible protests against Urban Shield, all days off have been canceled for Oakland cops. But organizers hope that citizens realize their job is to protect and serve.

The 8th annual event is hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is kicking in $1.37 million dollars.

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