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Occupy Denver costs adding up for city

8:31 PM, Nov 14, 2011   |    comments
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Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 16, the city spent $365,000 paying for police, sheriff's officers, public works, environmental health and Denver Health to come out to the site of the protests. More recent numbers aren't available, but city officials hope to have a more updated tally by the end of this week.

Denver Police say because of the need to manage occupy protestors, citizens living in other parts of the city may experience delays in service.

"Dealing with an ongoing situation like Occupy Denver does create some staffing challenges for us," John White, spokesman for Denver Police, said. "We have officers who have to respond from other districts. That obviously leaves a need in the other districts."

DPD has six districts serving the city. Many of the officers serving in different parts of Denver have to come out downtown to help at Civic Center Park.

"Priority is given to crimes against persons calls and crimes in progress calls," White said. "Calls of a lesser nature - for example a traffic accident that does not have any injuries - those types of calls may experience a delay in response due to a non-life threatening issue."

White could not say how long the delay was.

At Civic Center Park Monday, protestors told 9NEWS police should not be "babysitting" them.

"Every time there is a march, every time there is a protest it is always peaceful and nonviolent," Jason Ball, who's been camping out downtown for a month, said. "The times the tensions escalate, people become upset and there starts to become problems are when riot police shows up."

White says every time police have responded to the park, the protestors provoked it by breaking the law.

"There have been situations in the past where there's been disruption in traffic. There have been other violations of the law that have occurred and it's a much better and much smarter response to have officers that are close by that are in the area that could respond quickly to those types of situations," White said.

Denver Police estimate they've arrested 84 protesters since the middle of October.

A city spokesperson told 9NEWS the city is being "thoughtful and careful about the cost these efforts have on the taxpayers of Denver." Adding, the city was not going to "risk the safety of any one person as a result of budgetary restrictions."

According to the city, the resources allocated for Occupy Denver protests on a daily basis are part of the city's general operational costs. These costs are carefully monitored to balance fiscal responsibility with necessary safety enforcement.

"Personnel overtime and other costs are incurred when resources are necessary and only used to defuse heightened situations or address unhealthy or threatening circumstances," a city spokesperson told 9NEWS.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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