Capitol Protest Security Costs Still Unknown

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By Matt Horn
July 27, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - More protesters from across the country are coming out to the state capitol to show support for the Dream Defenders.

With more protesters, there is more security-- costing the state thousands of dollars.

As the second week of protests comes to an end, The number of protesters is growing at the state capitol… And so is the number of officers with Capitol Police.

"Our staff is double with Capitol Police right now."

The Dream Defenders have had around 100 people stay at the capitol after hours a number of nights. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has also kept a close eye on the group. FDLE says extra officers are costing the state tens of thousands of dollars.

Gretl Plessinger, FDLE: "In overtime costs we're seeing about $47 thousand so far. We're in the middle of a pay period so that number could increase or decrease, these are just estimates."

As people stay here for the sit-in over the weekend. FDLE says the numbers they released do not only include overtime, they also include general operating expenses.

Gretl Plessinger, FDLE: "That includes overtime worked, anyone working overtime; it also includes when we calculate salary we calculate benefits as well."

The Dream Defenders say they understand overtime is costing the state money, but they ask-- is the overtime worth more than a human life?

Steve Pargett, Dream Defenders: "What is the cost of the thousands of black and brown youth through-out the state going to prison or losing their lives and not finding any sort of justice."

Talks between the protesters and capitol police have remained peaceful, something the protesters say they will continue to do.

Steve Pargett, Dream Defenders: "We haven't been creating any problems, so maybe there are too many officers, maybe that's why the numbers are high."

For security reasons, FDLE won't say how many extra officers they have working, making it difficult to justify the costs.

By Matt Galka
July 24, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - They have the freedom to assemble, but the assembly isn't free.. The Dream Defenders sit-in at the Capitol is racking up security costs every day they're there.

Members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are making sure the Dream Defenders sit-in is peaceful, but it's not like they're doing this for free.

Phillip Agnew, Dream Defenders Executive Director: "I love to give people some overtime pay, I think no one can be mad with overtime pay."

It was Day 9 of the Dream Defenders demonstration at the Capitol Wednesday, and while the Dream Defenders may be okay with paying overtime, it's still taxpayer money being spent.

Gretl Plessigner, FDLE Communications Director: "Right now the overtime costs looks to be around 47,000 dollars, we are in the middle of a pay period so that could certainly change, these are rough estimates."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released cost estimates for security during the Dream Defenders stint at the Florida Capitol. Right now, overtime costs are averaging out to a little more than 5,000 dollars a day.

Dream Defenders Executive Director Phillip Agnew says that the group understands the costs, but they have no plans of leaving until they get their wish: a special legislative session to examine the Stand Your Ground law.

Reporter: "That money starts to add up."

Phillip Agnew, Dream Defenders Executive Director: "Yea that money does start to add up but that's up to the Governor to consider."

As long as FDLE lets them stay in the building, there's no limit on how long the demonstration can last.

FDLE: "At this point, we'll certainly re-evaluate if necessary, but at this point there are no plans to make them leave."

Those rough estimates could change at the end of the pay period, but obviously more money is being spent every day the protest continues.

Press Release: FDLE

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has received a number of requests for information regarding the ongoing Dream Defenders protest at the Capitol building. Please see enclosed documents summarizing estimated costs and incidents regarding this event as reported to this office.

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- State law enforcement officials say that a week-long standoff at the Florida Capitol has caused security costs to escalate.

Protesters upset with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial have refused to leave the building until Gov. Rick Scott calls a special session. They want the Legislature to repeal the state's "stand your ground" law.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Tuesday released an estimate of how much has been spent since the Monday before the protest started.

FDLE estimated that so far the overall cost has been nearly $98,000 due to overtime and the need to have extra officers present. Part of that cost, however, includes what would have been spent normally.

Scott has repeatedly said he will not call a special session. Protesters have steadfastly refused to leave.

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