Missouri Has Spent $11.7 Million Policing the Ferguson Protests (So Far)

Deploying National Guard and Highway Patrol forces is expensive.

FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: Police stand watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing.
National Journal
Dec. 5, 2014, 10:47 a.m.

The of­ficers poli­cing Fer­guson, Mo., along with their guns and ammo, do not come cheap.

Since the po­lice shoot­ing of Mi­chael Brown in early Au­gust, the state of Mis­souri has spent an es­tim­ated $11.7 mil­lion on the Na­tion­al Guard and High­way Patrol, ac­cord­ing to num­bers re­leased by Mis­souri’s Of­fice of Budget and Plan­ning. These costs do not in­clude the money needed to fund loc­al po­lice de­part­ments from the city of Fer­guson and St. Louis County.

Pri­or to Decem­ber, the Na­tion­al Guard had in­curred over $5 mil­lion in payroll, fuel, and oth­er mis­cel­laneous costs to handle protests around the Fer­guson area. The es­tim­ated costs for the first three days of Decem­ber alone total nearly $1.8 mil­lion. The state’s high­way patrol has spent about $4.8 mil­lion to cov­er salary, over­time, lodging, meals, and trans­port­a­tion from Au­gust through Dec. 1. The $11.7 mil­lion fig­ure is an es­tim­ate, as the bill has not yet come due for some of the ser­vices on which the state is spend­ing its re­sources. The fi­nal tally could be slightly lower or high­er.

Gov. Jay Nix­on de­ployed Na­tion­al Guard troops in Au­gust after protests and vi­ol­ence erup­ted in the town fol­low­ing the death of 18-year-old Brown. In ad­vance of Novem­ber’s grand jury de­cision, Nix­on called a state of emer­gency.

The ex­tra po­lice forces are be­ing paid with emer­gency-re­lated funds from the state’s gen­er­al rev­en­ue, which is used to main­tain state op­er­a­tions. They are not be­ing paid out of the Na­tion­al Guard or the High­way Patrol’s reg­u­lar op­er­at­ing budgets.

These po­lice forces con­tin­ue to patrol the Fer­guson area with no set end date, ac­cord­ing to the budget of­fice. There’s no telling how much more the state will be spend­ing be­fore op­er­a­tions there are fin­ished.

“There will be up­dated num­bers that will in­clude ad­di­tion­al days, which will be avail­able once the du­ties in Fer­guson and the St. Louis area have been com­pleted,” says Linda Luebber­ing, Mis­souri’s state budget dir­ect­or.

There is some con­fu­sion among state of­fi­cials over wheth­er fed­er­al funds will be avail­able to pay some of the en­force­ment costs.

“So far the gov­ernor has said he doesn’t be­lieve there are fed­er­al funds avail­able, but I in­tend to look in­to that,” said Kurt Schae­fer, who chairs the state Sen­ate’s Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee.

The Le­gis­lature also in­tends to scru­tin­ize the budget, cit­ing a lack of de­tailed ac­count­ing on the gov­ernor’s part.

“$11.7 mil is a lot of money,” Schae­fer said. “The gov­ernor’s de­scrip­tions are very gen­er­al. We won’t know what the money was ac­tu­ally used for un­til we go in­to the com­puter sys­tem and look at what codes were entered for the ex­pendit­ures.”

When asked for com­ment, the gov­ernor’s of­fice dir­ec­ted Na­tion­al Journ­al to the ori­gin­al sum­mary of es­tim­ated ex­penses.

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