Baton Rouge, LA – Baton Rouge-area law enforcement officers have received approximately $900,000 in overtime pay due to having to work extra hours during the protests aimed at defunding police over the course of the past several months.
According to public records documents, nearly every Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officer and administrator received some amount of overtime pay during the month of June, WAFB reported.
“It was quite a few,” BRPD Deputy Chief of Administrations Myron Daniels told the news outlet. “I can’t say it was every[one], but it was more than normal, definitely.”
BRPD officers’ average overtime pay rate is $42 per hour, according to WAFB.
Some officers earned over $3,000 in overtime during a single pay period.
Between June 2 and June 29, the department paid out a total of $655,469 in wages and benefits due to overtime hours.
“We always have to have a contingency when it comes to these types of events,” Daniels told WAFB. “It is part of our budget, and we try to manage our finances based on that budget.”
He acknowledged that the numbers can seem “shocking” to those who aren’t familiar with the police budget.
“When you put it into perspective, for example, we have several major parades here throughout the seasons, and some of those parades, particularly the larger ones, we may spend $50,000 on average just for that day for a parade,” he explained.
“So, looking at our numbers, we spent about $17,000 a day to prepare for the protests, or the demonstrations, or the rallies that were had,” Daniels continued. “When you put it into perspective, it’s not as glaring as a number from that standpoint.”
The East Baton Rough Sheriff’s Office (EBRSO) paid 263 deputies a total of 5,270 hours of overtime for working the protests during a two-week period in June, WAFB reported.
That resulted in a cost of $210,248.85, according to department records.
“Our ultimate goal was to ensure that those who decided to exercise their constitutional right were well protected, and I think we met that goal,” Daniels said of the overtime payouts. “It’s kind of hard to put a price on safety. And with that, I think in layman’s terms, it was money well spent.”
Daniels further noted that providing extra coverage during large-scale events involves far more factors than many people realize, WAFB reported.
“There are a lot of other things that people may not see, whether it’s the traffic side of it, being able to keep traffic off of those who may be protesting in the area,” he said. “Also, we still have our everyday duties responding to calls around the city, so again, these are unusual occurrences and we have to be prepared for them.”
BR For The People spokesperson Keondra Carter said that the overtime payouts prove that law enforcement agencies have too much funding and regularly respond to incidents with excessive force, WAFB reported.
“It’s not shocking at all to hear those numbers because an excessive amount of force is obviously funded by an excessive amount of money,” Carter claimed. “I feel as if the numbers were that high because they had helicopters deployed circling the area, they had armored trucks, and they had an extreme number of officers there.”
“It’s very disheartening to see that they expected that out of our people, out of our community, and met us with such force,” she added. “The police department could be defunded, because this is all done excessively. If we needed a military presence, the National Guard should have been called. That is their job. Our police departments do not have to be militaristic. Our police department’s job is to serve our community.”
Carter said that the law enforcement response during the anti-police protests were intended to send a message, WAFB reported.
“It was to send a message that the police run things around here,” she said.