Cost of protests: OT, damages, and graffiti


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Not only are local police at the center of the recent race demonstrations, but they are also on the front lines.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that we maintain and create an environment that is safe for our citizens,” said Commissioner Osborne Robinson III, York City Police.

Creating a safe environment often requires more man power, which means more money. The abc27 investigators got the numbers.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, overtime expenditures related to protests and civil unrest that began the weekend of May 30 totaled approximately $1.6 million, with at least 2,180 enlisted members earning overtime pay. The cost of damaged patrol vehicles and other equipment is approximately $108,665.

Harrisburg Police told abc27 expenditures related to the recent rallies totaled $129,365.14, with a majority of the cost related to overtime pay. The bureau said it is unknown if the extra expense will have a negative impact on the police budget. The city of Harrisburg will be seeking any reimbursement eligible to assist with recovering the cost associated with the protests.

In the city of Lancaster, police overtime expenses totaled $55,295.16 for demonstrations that took place the week of May 31. The public works department also had to clean graffiti on city hall which cost $2,073.11 for staff time and equipment costs.

Unlike Harrisburg, Lancaster City will not be seeking reimbursement.

“We did not have an emergency declaration, curfew or any other official actions taken related to the demonstrations that might make a municipality eligible for reimbursement of these costs. Fortunately, even with the added costs related to the demonstrations that week, we have had lower overall overtime expenses in 2020 than we did through June of 2019,” said Patrick S. Hopkins, Business Administrator, City of Lancaster.

York City police Commissioner Robinson says his department paid $81,000 in over time expenses.

“We have to handle and manage our budget and that includes unforeseen expenses. It is no different than managing your personal budget when an unforeseen expense comes up. You have to work with it and through it so you come out on top. Sometimes we have an opportunity to apply for grants, depending on the criteria on the grants, that would allow us to be reimbursed,” said Commissioner Robinson.

If the unforseen costs can not be reimbursed in can impact other areas of the police department.

“Officers being able to get training, equipment, or resources. It also has a direct impact on deployment because we also use deployment to proactively engage in enforcement in priority areas so that can have an impact on the community,” said Commissioner Osborne.

“It is going to cost you a few dollars more, but remember the citizenry pays those salaries,” said Rev. Dr. Franklin E. Hairston-Allen.

Rev. Dr. Hairston-Allen is the president of the Greater Harrisburg NAACP. He says while there are costs associated with protests there could be a greater cost to humanity if citizens’ voices are not heard.

“They have a right to protest. They have a right to be heard. We need to march, we need to protest, because with the gravity of the things that have happened this year no one can remain silent,” said Rev. Dr. Franklin E. Hairston-Allen.

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