Whether it’s the President of the United States or the president of a local little league--perhaps no one will be immune from South Bend’s efforts to recoup police overtime costs.
Currently the South Bend Common Council is considering an ordinance that targets visiting VIP’s and dignitaries.
The measure would allow the city to bill the local sponsors or hosts of an event that requires special police services to protect a dignitary.
The rate specified in the proposed ordinance would be $65 per hour per officer.
In the future, some say a similar concept may apply to everything from little league parades to charity fun runs that also require a special police presence.
This weekend, the Chet Waggoner Little League will continue its long tradition of holding an opening day parade. Next year, that may require the league to open its wallet.
“I was a player in Chet Waggoner Little League, I coached in Chet Waggoner,” said South Bend First District Councilman Derek Dieter. “That is now a very good possibility that, unfortunately, those people will have to get charged.”
Dieter figures if the city is going to charge to protect the likes of the President of the United States during their occasional visits, why wouldn’t it consider doing the same for the folks who rack up police overtime on a much more regular basis.
“Over the last two years, we’ve averaged about 80-special events a year,” said South Bend Police Lt. Steve Goen.
This coming weekend there are four special events on tap. There are two charity walks, and two little league parades that will require about a dozen officers to put in overtime.
“The weekend after that, we have the Cinco de Mayo Parade and also have the M.S. Walk,” said Lt. Goen. “Depending on the size of the event, most of the time I can do it with three officers.”
Given the budgetary pressures being felt by South Bend city leaders, some feel the city can’t continue along the same path—of providing special police services for free.
“We just don’t have the manpower and we can’t take officers off the street for maybe an hour, an hour and a half to do that,” said Councilman Dieter.
Right now, there are at least two running events that do reimburse the city for police protection: The Sunburst Marathon, and the Salmon Run.
In the future, reimbursement may be the rule for all special events.
Councilman Dieter would like to see charities charged less than non-charities for officer overtime, although he says the details will likely be worked out in the months to come.
One area of concern that Councilman Dieter does not believe the city can legally address through an ordinance—involves the police presence needed during Notre Dame home football games.
Dieter estimates the cost to the police department of providing game day traffic control at $130-thousand dollars a year. Dieter says that the city now covers that entire cost on its own.