The price of protests is mounting in Philly.
As of last week, the City of Philadelphia had already paid $2.8 million in overtime related to policing costs for protests since the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan. 20. The city paid an additional $80,000 during this roughly two-week time span to the Fire, Public Property, and Street Departments along with the Office of Fleet Management.
The Philadelphia Police Department has been widely praised for its surveillance of protests in recent weeks. The police have avoided mass arrests so far, even as a number of sizable demonstrations rolled out around town. The Women’s March saw some 50,000 protesters on the Parkway, while Center City played host to thousands of protesters the week after, for a series of planned actions during the GOP Retreat. Thousands took to the Philadelphia International Airport during the last weekend in January, in protest of Trump’s travel ban. Last week, the Comcast employee walkout brought more than 1,000 protesters to City Hall, an estimate that counted employees and supporters alike.
Billy Penn is currently awaiting more figures on protest policing costs. But if Philly continues to host a stream of protests, the City will continue to feel the sting of overtime expenses, which have ballooned in recent years. As we’ve reported, police and security accrues earn more overtime in Philly than the rest of the City’s workforce. In 2013, Philly PD overtime costs hit $69 million; in 2014, they were $75 million, and by 2015, they’d reached $89 million.
City spokesman Mike Dunn also said in an email that heavy protests have “place[d] an increased burden on our police force.” For him, the culprit is a lack of foresight from the Trump administration.
“We are proud of the PPD who have worked long hours to ensure public safety and freedom of expression go hand in hand,” Dunn wrote. “The increased number of demonstrations we’ve seen over these past few weeks are the direct result of rushed White House policy announcements and implementation. They highlight how important it is for the White House to fully vet policies before they are imposed, for Congress to insist on its legislative oversight as well, and for our federal representatives to open their doors to their constituents.”