I read quite a few of the British police blogs, and I admit I like the odd post where they complain about their uniforms. These usually attract a fair amount of comments from other officers too. I find it interesting because it's a load of men talking about their clothes in great detail. Looking at this invention, maybe it could have been a bit worse if they'd lived in 1950's Detroit.
This design for police riot kit featured in Mechanix Illustrated (September 1956). It was intended to protect Detroit 'men in blue' against rioters and gunmen. The police were supposed to fire through the portholes, which were made from bulletproof glass. Other handy features were the spotlight on the top and the 'leggings'. As it's made of steel and weighed 65-lbs, a version with wheels attached was designed for anyone wanting a bit of extra help.
It reminds me of a cross between a Dalek and a Cyberman. One of the commenters on BoingBoing pointed out that Ned Kelly had similar body armour in 1880. Nothing's new, is it, the same needs exist but the kit is just modified according to the technology and the materials available.