Police charging for their services www.privateofficer.com
By: Rick McCann/Staff
PRIVATE OFFICER NEWS
Strapped for cash and working with fewer officers police and sheriff departments are now doing what they must do to keep their department afloat including charging for services.
While it has been no secret that many departments have been charging business and in some areas residents for false burglar alarms, now law enforcement agencies are planning to charge for other routine or specialized services.
According to Capt. Brady a police spokesperson in Texas, many departments especially smaller ones can not afford to have their officers tied up directing traffic after church services or at a busy intersection during a special event, concert or convention for free.
So now, many police agencies are turning to the event promoter or civic centers where the event is being held and charging them for the police manpower being used to patrol the area to keep it safe, direct traffic or other related duties.
In Mississippi, DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco says an attorney general’s opinion supports his claim that Mid-South Fair organizers owe his office $27,000 for overtime for deputies providing security.
Rasco and Southaven police paid law officers overtime during the October fair to control traffic and provide a police presence.
Southaven is not seeking reimbursement. But Rasco said it is only fair a profit-making venture pay for extra protection.
Rasco said the attorney general opinion says “the sheriff is not a security guard company and is not required to provide security to events free of charge.”
Mid-South Fair general manager Jim Rout said he had not seen the opinion and could not comment.
While those towns collect tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, “doing both police and fire- that number could be well over a million dollars,” said St. Petersburg City Councilman Jim Kennedy.
“I don’t think the average citizen understands how much of the services that they pay for are provided to people who are not residents of the city,” Kennedy adds.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and Police administrators are now developing possible schedules of fees and city attorneys are writing a possible ordinance. Charges for emergency services could add up fast.
“For an accident with injuries we send one fire truck and one rescue truck. The fire truck’s there for hazard mitigation and also they assist the paramedics with patient care,” said Fire Rescue’s Lt. Joel Granata.
That means there are at least five or six firefighters and paramedics in the first response, then more are called if there is an extrication or a hazmat situation. They may be on the scene for an hour or more.
Police officers control traffic and investigate causes of the crash.
Kennedy proposes billing insurance companies first, then individual motorists if the insurance carrier refuses to pay.
“And that individual would probably be going back to their insurance carrier saying I purchased coverage to pay for this” Kennedy predicts.