New Yorkers fretting over rising New York Police Department (NYPD) overtime costs – a record $550 million last year – should consider what Hello Kitty, Shrek and Sonic the Hedgehog will add to the city’s bill tomorrow. According to the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade cost $192,000 in police overtime last year.
It might seem like small change following the intense police presence surrounding Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park and elsewhere in Manhattan. Last Thursday, a police department spokesman told The New York Times that Occupy Wall Street-related police overtime since the start of the protests added up to a cumulative $8 million.
That’s a lot of money for a lot of overtime hours. Although just a fraction of the budget for the current fiscal year, Occupy Wall Street overtime expenses have been the costliest single event for the NYPD this year.
But Occupy Wall Street has endured for more than two months, with periodic surges for demonstrations like last Thursday’s “day of action.” For each of the 62 days between September 17, when the occupation began, and November 17, the daily cost of police overtime has averaged about $129,000 – significantly less than the cost of parade coverage.
It’s not news that police coverage for parades is costly. Last year, the police department announced a plan to shorten the routes of all New York City parades by 25 percent to save an estimated $3.1 million in annual overtime costs. The Thanksgiving Day Parade is exempt from the cutbacks. Police spokesman Paul Browne told The New York Times that because this parade falls on a Thursday – when manpower is the strongest even on a holiday – it costs the department much less in overtime than other parades.
The NYPD breaks down its overtime budget into “planned” and “unplanned” events. Occupy Wall Street is categorized as an unplanned event, as are natural disasters, presidential visits and sports playoffs requiring increased police presence. Just because an event is planned doesn’t mean it comes cheap: The IBO reports that the New York City Marathon cost $2.3 million in overtime last year.