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Va. police budgets take hit from campaign visits

Sunday - 12/2/2012, 4:20pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Providing security during a presidential campaign can be costly for police agencies.

Four Richmond-area police departments and Virginia State Police racked up more than $350,000 in costs to provide security for President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney during their multiple campaign visits. The total doesn't include the state police's costs for the final two-and-a-half weeks of the campaign, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

"Everybody started to look and say, hey, this is starting to rack up money and guess who's footing the bill: the taxpayer, essentially," Chesterfield County Deputy Police Chief Ben Mize told the newspaper.

The local police departments are asking the campaigns to reimburse security costs. But Mize believes reimbursement is unlikely.

"I don't think the campaigns are going to give us the time of day on this," he said.

Based on past experience, state police are absorbing the cost and are not seeking reimbursements.

The Obama and Romney campaigns in Virginia referred questions to the Secret Service.

Max Milien, a Secret Service spokesman, said local police agencies are advised during the planning of events that the federal agency is not funded to reimburse them for campaign security.

"We try to minimize the impact so they don't have to pay overtime," Milien told the newspaper.

Henrico Police Chief Doug Middleton said the Secret Service never told him that his department should not expect payment for campaign security expenses.

"In fact, we haven't discussed it with the Secret Service because it is not their responsibility. They are a fine organization and we have a great partnership with them," he told the newspaper.

Fifteen campaign stops between mid-July and Election Day cost Henrico County $183,693 in expenses and 3,345 officer hours.

"We wouldn't ask the Secret Service to reimburse the taxpayers for these costs since the costs are the result of campaign staffs planning visits to our locality," Middleton said.

He said the Obama campaign has not fulfilled a promise to reimburse the county for the $1,200 cost of installing a telecommunication line at a July 14 event.

"I can't make them do anything," Middleton said. "I've simply said, this is what it costs us. I would like you to reimburse our citizens. That's all I'm asking."

The Republican Party of Virginia has been the exception. It reimbursed Henrico police $1,861.77 for costs incurred during former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's July 13 visit to open a Romney campaign office in Henrico; and paid $7,820.11 to Richmond police for costs during an Aug. 16-17 visit by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

Richmond Deputy Chief John Buturla said campaign security costs will affect his department's ability to provide certain crime-fighting and crime-control initiatives in the city.

"It's a substantial drain on our budget," he said.

Obama's July 14 visit to Henrico was the costliest stop by a candidate in central Virginia. It required 109 Henrico police officers, 12 Henrico parks and recreation employees, three traffic engineers and equipment use for a combined cost of $52,355.

Ryan's Aug. 31 visit to Henrico was the most expensive event for the Romney campaign. It totaled $17,430 in police salaries and vehicle expenses.


Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch,

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