As protests over police brutality and racial inequality continue, police departments face mounting labor cost

Protests against systemic racism have continued nationally and in Arizona since the death of George Floyd.

On August 10, Phoenix Police declared a protest in Downtown Phoenix an unlawful assembly after what started as a peaceful event turned into a confrontation between some protesters and police officers at the Phoenix Police Department headquarters.

The recent protests are costing taxpayers money. FOX 10 reached out to many of the police departments with the largest protests in the state. In those communities, nearly $15 million have been spent on overtime alone responding to protests this summer.


"An under-response is just as catastrophic as an over-response, so it’s really important to us to have personnel ready," said Detective Gregg Bacon with the Tempe Police Department.

Det. Bacon says the department has spent $654,652 between overtime and union-mandated benefit payments responding to protests.

"We understand it’s a big figure, but we also understand our community has an obligation, or we have an obligation to the community to protect them, protecting businesses, protecting residents, protecting the community in general, so we create a plan and we put that plan into action," said Det. Bacon.


In Phoenix, where many of the protests started at the metal gates in front of the doors of the Phoenix Police Department headquarters, police officials say since late May, the department has paid officers $9,676,037. The number is expected to go up following the recent protest.

For comparison, the approved budget for the Phoenix Police Department is $721 million, so the overtime costs makes up about 1% of the overall budget.


In Scottsdale, where people stormed Scottsdale Fashion Square and committed acts of looting, the department spent more than $826,189 responding over the course of two weeks.

Department of Public Safety

DPS reportedly spent $2,522,059 responding to protests.


In Mesa, FOX 10 has learned that officers received $640,000 in overtime.

Det. Bacon: Police focused on safety

Many protestors have called for defunding the police and stopping overtime, but Det. Bacon says when Tempe plans a response, the focus is on safety, not overtime.

"We have to make sure we are protecting everybody when these protests are happening, so that’s why it seems like there’s such a large response," said Det. Bacon.

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