How much chemical irritant does it take to put on a Republican National Convention?

St. Paul hopes $1.9 million worth will do it.

Police officials on Tuesday shared details on how they intend to spend a $50 million security grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Other items such as bicycles, cell phones and officer training are on the wish list.

The St. Paul City Council is expected to approve the grant agreement today at its meeting, during which Assistant Chief Matt Bostrom, who has been planning convention security, will give a presentation on the expenditures. The convention will be held Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The majority of the money, $34 million, is being spent on overtime salaries for officers on loan from other jurisdictions, as well as other contracts such as for satellite and cell phone service. About $1 million will be spent on meals, $3.5 million on training non-St. Paul officers and $1 million for private guards.

The city, which has about 600 sworn officers, has been trying to increase its ranks to about 3,500. On Monday, Police Chief John Harrington said the department had 54 signed agreements with other agencies and is well on its way to reaching the goal.

However, he didn't say how many officers have already committed. The department also has talked with agencies in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois about getting officers.

A bit less than $5 million will be spent on other city personnel, including public works and Fire Department workers.

About $4.6 million will go toward equipment. That includes a $560,000 command post vehicle filled with computers and communications equipment, $612,000 for radios and $900,000 for fencing and metal detectors.

About $5 million will be spent on supplies that include $1.9 million for chemical irritant, $308,500 for fuel and $1 million for chemical masks.

"We have been very, very frugal with the federal tax dollars," Harrington said. Security will not cost St. Paul taxpayers any "real money," he added.

He said the $50 million amount is close to the department's $70 million annual budget.

St. Paul received the money because the convention is considered a National Special Security Event. Denver, which is host to the Democratic National Convention, also was awarded $50 million.

Harrington said much of the spending will have a lasting benefit for the city and region, from officer training to security cameras to the new command center vehicle that can be used by the Fire and Emergency Management Departments.

There are rigid guidelines for how the money can be used. For instance, no new construction is allowed, nor are major renovations that will "change the basic prior use of a facility or significantly change its size."

The city also must keep strict records for audits. The city doesn't get to keep any unused money.

"We are as prepared for this event as one can possibly be," said Mayor Chris Coleman.

To see a copy of the budget online, go to

Chris Havens • 651-298-1542