Data obtained through a public records request shows that overtime pay for policing the political gatherings last year was $4,929,447, a notable increase from other years, due to a high amount of civil unrest.
The OCSD spent $3,939 policing riots and protests in 2019, and $15,592 in 2018.
“Anytime we have information that one of these events is going to have a higher number of people showing up, or possibly any threat to public safety, the Sheriff’s Department is going to plan and make sure that we have adequate staffing to allow people to practice their First Amendment rights,” OCSD Sgt. Ryan Anderson told The Epoch Times.
In addition to patrolling a quarter of the county, Anderson said the OCSD is the operational area law enforcement mutual aid coordinator. It means other police departments within the county can make requests for OCSD deputies, equipment, information, and other resources when needed. This often occurred in 2020, when other departments required help policing or monitoring political events, he said.
Statistics show that in the past year alone, the OCSD monitored 202 events and responded to 76 events. It had 3,105 personnel deployed, and of that number, 256 of them were reserve deputies who volunteer to help the department, Anderson said.
During the period of May 30 through June 7, 2020, the department responded to 52 protests in 25 cities, with 2,207 deputies and reserve deputies deployed to help.
“Our reserve volunteers have a significant impact on our operations and it proved itself again,” Anderson said. “Last year, the reserve deputy sheriff volunteers were able to give us a cost savings of $2,793,690.
“The reserves really help us out; they’re very dedicated, and again, they’re doing this free of charge and they’re proud to be on those front lines and they were at some of the more dynamic events last year,” Anderson said. “A lot of them want to give back to the community. … They really care about the department, and they care about the communities, and a lot of them reside in Orange County and they do whatever they can do to make a difference.”
Throughout 2020, the sheriff’s department also had tactical alerts, a term it uses for when all sworn staff are required to work seven days a week for 12 hours a day in order to have adequate staffing in supporting other agencies.
“Political unrest and riots do cause mental and physical fatigue for deputies,” Alex Pratt, spokesperson for the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs said. “With the increased staffing, many deputies are working long hours and countless days at a time to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. In order to meet these demands, deputies were forced to work 16-hour days, without any days off, for well over a week last year. Whether at the event, or out on patrol, they feel the increased stress and duty to safeguard the public, all while missing important life events being away from their loved ones and families at home.”