AUSTIN (KXAN) — Protests that erupted downtown over the weekend spurred the Austin Police Department to call in nearly all its officers for round-the-clock coverage. The cost for that overtime could near, or even top, $1 million, according to Austin police union President Ken Casaday and a KXAN analysis.
Casaday, who has been with the force for 23 years, said it was the first time he could recall APD enacting “Alpha Bravo” staffing, which calls for practically every officer without established vacation plans to show up for 12-hour shifts starting at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. With that surge in staffing, officers would accrue 32 to 36 hours of overtime, he said.
Casaday estimated the total cost of protest-related overtime at roughly $800,000, but KXAN’s analysis of APD’s payroll and the number of overtime hours reveals the cost could be higher.
Using department payroll data from this year, we calculated that the average officer eligible for overtime makes $58.03 per hour.
The department has 1,143 police officers, but to get a conservative estimate, we multiplied that number by only half of the department’s police officers, not including sergeants and detectives.
That total came out to $33,135.13, which we multiplied by 32 hours of overtime. The estimate, again a conservative one, came out to $1,060,324.16 that taxpayers are on the hook for.
This comes as the Austin Police Department’s funding is being heavily scrutinized, with many advocates calling on city leaders to reduce APD’s budget. This follows a weekend when multiple people were seriously hurt by bean bag rounds, considered by law enforcement to be a “less than lethal” tactic, but one APD now says it will no longer use for crowd control.
Thousands of people in Austin have demonstrated against instances of police brutality, racism and inequality in the last week, and hundreds of others signed up to speak in front of City Council and express their frustrations Thursday.
An Austin Police Department spokesperson told KXAN, “The situation is just too fluid for us to be able to put together a list of costs or estimates right now. The short answer is that responding to these protests impacts our budget which impacts taxpayers.”