Police chief unhappy about spending OT money on Occupy

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Police say the Occupy protests here in the Tri-State have been "peaceful," however, some officers say that doesn't come without a price.

Capt. Doug Wiesman said the department has spent $128,000 on overtime for about 1,900 hours. Benefits are included in that figure. Take that out, and the number drops to $91,000.

On Wednesday morning, more than a dozen protesters were arrested. Officers working third shirt were called out to Piatt Park, but a number of others were needed. Those officers were paid overtime.

"The city of Cincinnati spent $128,000 oppressing citizens," said Josh Spring, Occupy Cincinnati member and executive director of the Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.

"We've always had to be prepared for the worst because we didn't know," said Capt. Wiesman.

Captain Wiesman helped organize C.P.D.'s response to protesters.

He said the money is taken from a pot that is meant for overtime. He said that while finance managers may have had to shift some funds, they are still within their budget.

"You say, is it worth it?" asked Capt. Wiesman. "Just look on the TV on the evening news and look at what's happening in other cities. My goodness. They've spent millions of millions of dollars on riot helmets and riot shields, and I gotta say, look at what's happening in Cincinnati."

But on the other side of the issue, Spring believes the police response has been over the top since the beginning of their occupation.

"The majority of the time they spent milling around the park and talking to each other," said Spring. "It seemed like it was a nice little paid retreat for them. We did nothing to say we would be violent. They should respect citizens and their rights enough to say we are not going to act in a way to pump up our muscles, unless it is needed."

Police Chief James Craig said order must be maintained, but he's not happy about spending the money on this expense-- meaning some other program affecting others throughout the city may not be funded.

"We will deal with issue," said Chief Craig. "I'm just saying when you look at the money that taxpayers are paying and we talking about the reason behind the protests, we gotta weigh it all. What impact will this have on their neighbors?"

On Friday, Judge Bernie Bouchard will hear one of the first rounds of cases dealing with Occupy protesters. He will decide whether or not the city has a right to file charges against members for being in the park after closing time. The charges carry a fine up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail.

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