Police costs rise as Capitol protests continue


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More protesters from across the country are coming out to the state Capitol to show support for the Dream Defenders.

As the second week of protests comes to an end and with more protesters to the state's "stand your ground" law, there is more security, costing the state thousands of dollars.

"Our staff is double with Capitol police right now," said Gretl Plessinger, of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The Dream Defenders have had around 100 people stay at the Capitol after hours a number of nights. FDLE has also kept a close eye on the group.

"In overtime costs, we're seeing about $47,000 so far," Plessinger said. "We're in the middle of a pay period, so that number could increase or decrease. These are just estimates."

As people stay there for the sit-in over the weekend, FDLE says the numbers it releases do not only include overtime, but also includes general operating expenses.

"That includes overtime worked, anyone working overtime," Plessinger said. "It also includes when we calculate salary, we calculate benefits as well."

The Dream Defenders say they understand overtime is costing the state money, but they ask, is the overtime worth more than a human life?

"What is the cost of the thousands of black and brown youth throughout the state going to prison or losing their lives and not finding any sort of justice," said Steven Pargett, of Dream Defenders.

Talks between the protesters and Capitol police have remained peaceful, something the protesters say they will continue to do.

"We haven't been creating any problems, so maybe there are too many officers," one protester said. "Maybe that's why the numbers are high."

For security reasons, FDLE won't say how many extra officers it has working, making it difficult to justify the costs.