Is all this necessary? (photo: Greg Raisman/flickr)

Thursday’s Oregonian attempted to answer the “how much is #Occupy costing us, anyway?” question for Portland taxpayers, focusing on Police Bureau overtime. I’m sure we’ll see Parks Department estimates on repair and reseeding and replanting the park campgrounds very shortly as well. For now, though, the paper provides some numbers about sworn officer presence on Mayor Sam Adams’ “Outta the Park!” wee hours street-fair and compares last year’s under-budget overtime expenditure with this half-years’ slightly high usage:

The city budgeted $7.77 million for police overtime in the 2011-12 fiscal year. As of the bureau’s last pay period ending Nov. 9 it has spent more than $3.5 million, Del Gizzi said.

But that figure doesn’t include the full $1.29 million in estimated overtime costs for policing the Occupy Portland movement, covering the bureau’s early planning days Oct. 1 through Monday.

Of course, those overtime expenses were necessary given the scary and unpredictable #Occupation the Portland Police Bureau was faced with, right? For an objective viewpoint, the reporter seeks out Mayoral ex-candidate, Police Chief Mike Reese, to justify his force’s huge overtime presence:

On the following Monday, Police Chief Mike Reese defended the police deployment. “In terms of keeping the peace, it was appropriate, and I don’t know how you put a dollar amount on that,” he said.

Next, though, we learn that a demonstration and march with no police presence turned out to require none after all (my bold):

The high costs stand in stark contrast to last weekend, when the bureau didn’t incur overtime as it changed course and decided not to provide police coverage for Occupy Portland’s march for universal health care, which remained peaceful.

So, the dollar amount Chief Reese can put on police overtime required to keep the peace when #Occupiers peaceably assemble to petition our government for redress of legitimate health care grievances is… ZERO. That makes #OccupyPortland’s point about Mayor Sam’s Deadline Countdown Party without really trying:

Occupy Portland protesters have said the massive police presence was unnecessary and a result of poor police management.

This round, like so many in Portland’s #Occupy debate, goes to the #Occupiers. The police presence, with its skyrocketing “associated overtime” costs, appears to be an entirely self-inflicted wound to the city’s coffers.

When there’s no police presence, marches are peaceful. And city payroll costs can be contained. There’s a lesson here; will Portland civic leaders learn it?

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge