George Floyd protests costly for Dayton, other local cities

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The protests held in the Dayton area following the death of George Floyd – who died while being arrested by a Minneapolis Police Officer on May 25 – proved costly for several local cities.

The protests held in Dayton on Saturday, May 30, which lasted into the early morning on Sunday, took out 24 percent of the Dayton Police Department’s regular overtime budget for the year, according to Diane Shannon, Director of Procurement, Management and Budget.

The protests cost the city $300,501 in overtime and comp time, as well as $90,720 in equipment and supplies for a total of $391,221. Dayton PD’s overtime budget is one of three separate overtime budgets the department has – the other two being for officers and courts and the second for officers and contracted services. When combining all three segments, the protests cost Dayton 8.4 percent of its total overtime budget for the year 2020 January through December.

The number is much smaller when compared to the total Dayton PD budget – the protests only accounted for .7 percent of the total Dayton PD 2020 budget of $54.97 million. But with the COVID-19 outbreak, and cities being stretched due to lost revenues, any unplanned events that require a large presence make a dent.

“Any unplanned expenses of that magnitude are a concern,” Shannon told WDTN.com on Tuesday. “But in the scheme of things, this cost is not at the magnitude of the pandemic.”

Protests in Beavercreek cost the police department $16,356 in overtime and $1,222 in equipment damage after a rock was tossed onto the hood of a police cruiser.

“It took about 7-percent of our allocated overtime budget for the year,” Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers said. “On top of that we had to use on-duty personnel which diverted them from doing their normal patrolling and answering calls. We may have had some delays getting to non-emergency calls because of the diversion.”

Evers said the majority of the costs came from one protest where people were blocking intersections. He said only one arrest was made. He said later protests had coordinated with Beavercreek PD, who then helped escort protesters as they walked along North Fairfield Road along sidewalks and through intersections.

The department also spent between $5,000-6,000 on a memorial protest held annually honoring John Crawford. Crawford was shot and killed by Beavercreek police at the Walmart in Beavercreek while holding a pellet gun in 2014. Evers said the protest is held every year. He was thankful this year’s protest was held on private property with permission from Walmart.

Evers said the costs are concerning when it comes to how budgets may run down in December, but he said he believes Constitutional rights trump fiscal concerns.

“I’m a big First Amendment guy,” Evers said. “And in this organization, we will protect First Amendment Rights.”

Evers said the costs paled in comparison to the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado Outbreak when the city made heavy use of its volunteer base.

“The tornadoes wiped us out in overtime in 2019,” Ever said. “We were running tight for the remainder of the year. Luckily we have a good group of volunteers who do a lot of traffic control when events like this happen, or inclement weather or crashes. I can’t say enough to thank them, they’ve saved the city a lot of tax dollars.”

Costs early in the year concern officials

While the costs of the Floyd protests hit local police budgets, the biggest concern shared by local officials was their timing. The protests occurred halfway through the year, meaning there’s still six months left on the calendar when other events may occur that require police to work more overtime or endure other costs.

With the Dayton PD using 24 percent of its regular overtime budget, it becomes a large concern if there’s another large event that city hasn’t planned, like the numerous tragedies that hit the Miami Valley in 2019. In Huber Heights, the problem came from having two protests they never expected.

“I look at this as an overall thing,” Schommer said. “I don’t think (the protests) will be a high percentage of our budget when it’s done or it will eat away other services, but we don’t normally have events that cost $10,000-plus in one day in overtime.”

While city managers and police departments carefully monitor their budgets amid the COVID-19 epidemic, Schommer said the Floyd protests were a curveball the city didn’t expect. Protests were held in cities across the country, leading to many police departments and politicians in both major parties to call for change. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has called racism a public health problem in the wake of Floyd’s death while Ohio legislators have urged the passing of reforms. Dayton has set up five committees headed by the City Commissioners and Mayor Nan Whaley to look at implementing changes to deal with racial problems in the city.

Much of the action that followed the Floyd protests was unprecedented, with small towns like Greenville, Celina and Germantown holding protests. Huber Heights had two protests – one on June 6 at Ohio 202 and a second protest walk at Gary Sherman Park on June 27.

On Thursday at 7 p.m., Dayton’s CW will host “A Conversation For Change,” which will examine issues of race relations and social justice.

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