From The Oregonian. Maxine Bernstein:
Portland police have spent more than $3.5 million in overtime – at least half of the overtime budgeted this fiscal year
Less than six months into the fiscal year, the Portland Police Bureau has spent at least half of its overtime budget, due partly to its Occupy Portland coverage.
“I think our expectation was that we were going to fully expend our overtime budget as it was. This is a budget challenge for the Police Bureau,” said Bob Del Gizzi, business operations manager for the bureau’s fiscal services.
The city budgeted $7.77 million for police overtime in the 2011-12 fiscal year. As of the bureau’s last pay period ending Nov. 9 it has spent more than $3.5 million, Del Gizzi said.
But that figure doesn’t include the full $1.29 million in estimated overtime costs for policing the Occupy Portland movement, covering the bureau’s early planning days Oct. 1 through Monday.
A daily breakdown of the bureau’s Occupy Portland costs shows the costliest days were the weekend of Nov. 12-13, when police called in hundreds of officers, sergeants and detectives to staff the mayor’s 12:01 a.m. Nov. 13 closure of the two downtown parks where campers had assembled for five weeks.
Thousands of protesters, supporters and bystanders showed up for the deadline. Portland police didn’t move in until later Sunday morning to push out bleary-eyed campers who had stayed up all night.
By then, Portland police had canceled all officers’ days off. Officers also were working extended 12-hour shifts. That included sergeants and detectives, who don’t normally work the street.
Portland police show 655 sworn bureau members worked Nov. 13, costing $330,396 in overtime. The day before, 588 sworn bureau members worked, costing $312,715. The bureau has 951 sworn members.
Occupy Portland protesters have said the massive police presence was unnecessary and a result of poor police management.
On the following Monday, Police Chief Mike Reese defended the police deployment. “In terms of keeping the peace, it was appropriate, and I don’t know how you put a dollar amount on that,” he said.
The high costs stand in stark contrast to last weekend, when the bureau didn’t incur overtime as it changed course and decided not to provide police coverage for Occupy Portland’s march for universal health care, which remained peaceful.
Historically, the bureau exceeds its overtime budget. But last fiscal year, the bureau spent $6.85 million in overtime, under the $8 million budgeted.
“So far, we’ve spent about half as much as we spent all of last year. We’re on pace to spend more than we did last year,” Del Gizzi said.
City fiscal analysts plan to meet with the chief next week to figure out what the impact on the overall budget will be and what strategies the bureau needs to take.
“There’s not a large pot of money around that we can dip into to cover this,” Del Gizzi said. “It’s going to present a challenge to save that amount of money anywhere else.”