Who Will Pay for Rally Police Protection?

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

There were no major incidents as neo-Nazis gathered at the state capitol Saturday with plenty of protestors there to greet them. But the massive police presence there may come at a cost.

They were a substantial presence: 504 law enforcement officers separating as many as 600 protesters from the neo-Nazis.

We know now roughly 200 of those officers were with the state police.

So, who's going to pay for all that protection? Well, because the Capitol is, of course, state property, state taxpayers may have to foot the largest share of the bill.

Local taxpayers could end up paying as well, since the majority of officers -- 300 out of the 500 officer total -- were from local departments like Lansing, East Lansing, MSU and Clinton County. Other departments involved at the rally include Bath Township and the sheriff's departments in Eaton and Jackson counties.

Another unknown: Tthe cost itself. Police overtime could be a major factor.

But as an example, a majority of the officers dispatched to the rally from the Michigan State Police post in Jackson were already on duty at the time. That means the state will only owe them overtime for a few hours beyond the normal eight hour workday. Still, a few hours multiplied by hundreds of officers could yield a substantial cost.

There is one possible source to cover that cost other than taxpayers: The neo-Nazis themselves.

MSP Jackson Post Commander Lt. Jim Shaw now says the state could seek a refund from the National Socialist Movement.

A spokesman for the movement says there's no mention of paying for protection costs in the group's rally permit. Bill White says the group did "everything it could" to stop the spending.

White says if Lansing, or the state, wants his group to pay for police protection, the government would have to take the National Socialist Movement to court.

Many more details about the exact cost of protecton for the rally will likely be relesed in the coming week.

As far as the cost of the city-sponsored diversity, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has said it was funded mostly by private donations.

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