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.