Mayor Menino has said that the Occupy Boston protests are costing the city too much money in police overtime. City Council President Stephen Murphy went so far as to peg that cost at $2 million a month, a number he made up. But why is the city spending so much money on police in the first place?
Four or five officers are assigned to stand duty in Dewey Square around the clock. But for what? Unless the protesters are marching, there have been no security issues which necessitate such a presence. One of the officers even admitted to getting a little bored. If problems arise, the 911 emergency system can function in Dewey Square and its surroundings just as it functions in the rest of the city.
Besides, the encampment is surrounded by more than a dozen security cameras, cameras which the police have said they will use:
Police will employ the use of video-cameras in areas surrounding the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The video will be used to capture the images of individuals who are engaging in disorder. Those images will then be used to lodge criminal complaints in a follow-up investigation conducted by Boston Police detectives.
— Boston Police Media Relations
So why the overtime? I guess it is to protect the city from peddlers of a few dollars worth of prescription drugs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money have not been spent in vain.
Update (Feb. 10, 2012): Total spending on the Occupy Boston encampment came to $1.4 million.