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CINCINNATI — Policing the Wall Street protesters occupying a downtown Cincinnati park has run up a $128,000 tab for the city.
Roughly 1,900 overtime hours, including benefits, accounts for the six-figure price tag in policing the month-old protest against corporate influence in government, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Subtract benefits and that is $91,000 for overtime manpower — compared with $6,800 in overtime for President Barack Obama’s September visit to Cincinnati and $135,000 for dignitary protection during the last presidential election.
Cincinnati Police Capt. Doug Wiesman, who helped plan the police response to protesters, said the department doesn’t like having to pay the overtime, but it is worth it.
“You’ve been watching the television, haven’t you? You’ve seen what happened in other cities,” he told the newspaper.
In the last week, two men were shot to death in Occupy encampments. In Oakland, Calif., a man was shot and killed near an Occupy camp, and in Burlington, Vt., a military veteran died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“We spent $91,000 but everything has been peaceful in Cincinnati. Is it not worth it?”
Some demonstrators don’t see it the same way in a city where overnight permit-less encampments on city property have seen dozens of arrests.
“The fact that the city ever — and especially in a budget crisis — would spend $128,000 to tell citizens they can’t speak up in their own space is absurd. It’s criminal itself,” said Josh Spring, a member of Occupy Cincinnati and executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.
This year, police had about $266,000 budgeted for overtime — all of which was used before Occupy Cincinnati started marching on Oct. 8. The police are able to cover the occupation-related overtime due to a surplus in another police fund, said Ella Topham, director of the department’s finance management section.
A police presence has been required from the initial march in October and at every subsequent Saturday rally since, Weisman said. When police chief James Craig ordered the protesters be cited, around 15 officers were needed every night to do that.
“Each time we don’t know what to expect,” Wiesman said. “Was this going to become turning over cars, like we saw at Penn State? … A crowd can turn fast and when you’re facing a crowd like that, it’s scary.”
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