- Alex Garland
- The Seattle Police Department's response to a December 8 protest called by local anarchists. (The march drew about a dozen people.) The police department says it has spent nearly $586,000 in protest-related overtime for officers since November 13.
SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb tells us the request comes in response to concern—not just in the police department, but in other parts of city government, too—at the costs of the police presence at recent protests. He adds that this isn't in response to any specific protest. But you might have noticed it comes on the heels of Monday night's gathering, where cops far outnumbered protesters who showed up for an anarchist-organized protest in front of Niketown.
The department says it's spent nearly $586,000—that's above its already-set overtime budget—responding to protests through December 2. (Which was was before last weekend's massive student-led march, and two other smaller marches in the days after.)
Overruns are nothing new for the SPD, which went over its overtime budget by $7 million (!) last year. But Whitcomb says the department would really like people to get (free) permits in the future. The application form is here, and he notes that applications go to a "neutral third party"—the city's Office of Economic Development, not the police—for approval.
"This is not just process for process's sake," Whitcomb says. "We want to be good stewards of the resources that are assigned to us."
Here's the breakdown of how much the SPD spent on the (almost entirely peaceful) protests from Nov. 13 through Dec. 2.*
And for comparison, here are the SPD's costs for some other recent events:
Fourth of July 2014 $462,000
May Day 2014 $294,000
Rock & Roll Marathon 2014 $76,000
(*The grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson came down on November 24, so why do the SPD's listed protest expenses go back to November 13? Those earlier expenses, Whitcomb says, were "planning expenses" in anticipation of a big reaction to the decision. The department says it'll have more updated information—which presumably will include costs for covering the protests of the last few days—later this week or next.)