Haitian Police Are Using Riot Gear on Protesters Courtesy of Palm Beach Police Department
PBSO has been donating police supplies to the Haitian police force since 2010, when the Caribbean nation was devastated by a massive earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people. With the country ravaged by poverty and insecurity, free equipment and training was welcomed by locals. Since the first trip, PBSO deputies have returned three times, including this past November, to donate more equipment. In addition to gas masks, donations include riot shields, bulletproof vests, and even two police cars. PBSO has also conducted "leadership seminars" in which they apparently teach leadership skills.
Earlier this week, Haitian police force leaders visited PBSO headquarters to honor the sheriff's department for its continued assistance in providing equipment and training to the country's police forces.
Haitian Police fire tear gas during clashes after a march against the govt of #Haiti Pres Michel M in Port-au-Prince pic.twitter.com/oAmsc3UsDa
— Hans Solo (@thandojo) February 6, 2015 But it's the "crowd control" gear that appears to be getting the most use out of the donated supplies. Headlines from news agencies around the world, including the BBC and APF, have described the heavy use of tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters, who have been accused of throwing rocks and burning tires as they demanded the ouster of Haitian president Michel Martelly.
Police in Haiti fire tear-gas at protesters seeking ouster of government http://t.co/RLCAaJUyUn pic.twitter.com/PK9gqBN7fn
— The Independent (@Independent) February 9, 2015 Elections in Haiti have been stalled since 2011, when "six opposition senators used parliamentary procedure to prevent a vote while accusing the president of abusing his authority to appoint supporters to the electoral council and other posts," reports the Associated Press.
It's unclear how much crowd control gear PBSO has donated to the Haitian police force. PBSO did not comment on the volunteer effort.