Protests have been cropping up across Philadelphia from Center City to the airport nearly every day in the weeks since President Trump’s inauguration.
So far, keeping the peace has cost the city just under $3 million as of last week, according to spokesman Mike Dunn. And with more demonstrations planned in the coming weeks and months, those costs are expected to keep rising.
City officials appear resigned to that fact.
“I don’t think we see an end coming anytime soon, and we’re going to be prepared to make sure that the public is protected, that people’s individual rights are protected, and we will do it well,” said Brian Abernathy, Philadelphia’s deputy managing director.
“We can’t skimp on public safety to save a penny,” he added.
The money has been spent on overtime for employees with several departments, including streets, public property, fleet management, and the fire department. The bulk — about $2.8 million — has gone to overtime for Philadelphia police officers who escort marching demonstrators down the street on bicycles and on foot or stand guard at the perimeter of rallies.
But given the department’s $650 million budget — and the fact it has consistently spent more on overtime than other city departments in recent years — it’s a drop in the bucket.
Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said officials are not looking at cutting back on programs, such as recruitment or the Police Athletic League.
“It puts a little bit more of a strain on us and increases our level of responsibility of what we have to do, but at the end of the day, we’ll manage and we’ll maintain,” he said.