ANAHEIM – The Police Department spent $1.7 million on officer overtime during a four-week stretch when people took to the streets to protest two fatal shootings by police and long-simmering political frustration over the summer.
The department deployed SWAT officers, mounted patrols, detectives and patrol officers amounting to nearly 24,500 hours of overtime in July and August. Based on those hours, the average hourly overtime wage was $69.
“All of our officers were called in to work different aspects of the unrest,” police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. “The public’s safety is the chief’s responsibility, and we staff to make sure the citizens are safe.”
The protests erupted after police shot and killed Manuel Diaz on July 21. Diaz’s death was the first of two police shootings that sparked nights of protest. Police officers responded in black-padded armor, wielding batons and beanbag shotguns, as protesters set trash bins ablaze, shattered store windows and looted a clothing store downtown.
Dunn said the department spent about $6.5 million in overtime for all of the 2011-12 fiscal year, which ended June 30.
The unrest cost the city more than overtime. “We won’t have the complete picture of what was spent for quite some time,” Dunn said, adding the amount would include resources, such as barricades, provided by vendors.
Councilwoman Lorri Galloway said she was disappointed to learn of the total and said it was the “unfortunate outcome” of tensions that had been brewing for a long time.
“Having that kind of police response was definitely necessary to keep everybody safe,” Galloway said. “But I would hope that it serves as a learning experience that ongoing community dialogue is so important. We must help people feel engaged and part of the political process so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Dunn said it’s still too early to tell whether the spike in overtime will have an effect on the department, which has a budget of nearly $115 million and 536 full-time employees.
Greg Anderson, an Anaheim resident who lives near where protesters clashed with police in July, said he’s “outraged” by police needing to use the overtime.
“People have the right to speak their minds, but it just makes my blood boil that people – some from outside of Anaheim – chose to come in and stir up trouble,” Anderson said. “And who’s left with the tab? The responsible taxpayers of Anaheim.”
By DENISSE SALAZAR and SALVADOR HERNANDEZ / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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