Money earmarked for police presence at SF events Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — At least 111 events in Sioux Falls will continue to have a police presence and organizers won’t need to pay for it.

The Sioux Falls City Council approved Tuesday $300,000 toward paying police overtime to provide coverage at events in Sioux Falls.

The decision comes after Mayor Paul Ten Haken had suggested in November that event organizers be charged the cost of police coverage.

Coverage costs add up for the city.

TJ Nelson, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, pointed out in a Nov. 18 informational meeting that coverage of 14 designated Legacy events involved 1,792.50 hours of police coverage at a cost of $125,815.58.

Legacy events are those have been existed at least three years.

That’s just a snapshot of costs and coverage.

Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said the city used 3,380 working hours on events in 2019. The average overtime hourly cost is $71, which includes benefits and other salary items, he said.

Overtime is necessary because police staff remains on regular duties, Clemens said.

“The goal is to keep officers in their current regular assignments such as parks, traffic, school resource officer…,” Clemens said. “Their regular assignments are important and they are counted on by residents and visitors.”

At $71 per hour at 3,380 hours, the cost to cover those event hours is $239,980.

The city does not use a set formula to determine staffing at events, Clemens said.

While staffing is based on known and reasonably based anticipated factors, Clemens said, there are six factors considered.

Those considered factors are: event, spectator, location, personnel, traffic and other. Other includes budget, failed event organizer, weather, VIPs and similar features.

“Not all events require a police presence,” Clemens said. “It would depend on the factors listed above.”

In general, events held on public spaces would have police coverage, he said.

The $300,000 covers only overtime staffing costs and not equipment or related costs, Clemens said.

The least costly event with police coverage would be a 5k in a park, which would require one to two hours of coverage with two officers, Clemens said. At $71 per hour multiplied by two hours that coverage cost would be $142.

A scene from Jazz Fest in Sioux Falls. KELOLAND News photo

The most expensive would be Jazz Fest or the Sioux Falls Air show with each using about 600 to 700 hours of coverage, he said. At $71 per hour multiplied by 600 hours that coverage cost would be $42,600.

Jazz Fest is on hiatus for 2020.

The Sioux Falls Air Show happens every three years. The next show is set for 2022.

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