MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - While working to keep citizens safe amid ongoing tensions over Confederate statues in Memphis, the police department has spent thousands of dollars in overtime pay.
We uncovered Tuesday just how much Memphis Police Department spent in overtime in August.
"If you say the word Ferguson, and you say the word Charlottesville – it's unrest and a lot of strong opinions," said Mike Ryall, MPD Deputy Director.
The violence that erupted in those cities is what MPD said it is trying to protect against. The department's top brass told a city council committee Tuesday morning that the department shelled out $63,826 in overtime in August, related to protests and ongoing safety details.
"The Memphis Police Department wants to stay prepared, and I think that is our objective in this," Ryall said.
MPD spent $38,500 on a staffing plan on Aug. 15, the night of the candlelight vigil at Graceland. The vigil was said to be the next place activists would target in a protest. The protest never materialized.
The department has since spent $16,530 on protest events at two other parks where the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis are located. MPD continues to pay for ongoing details there; those details cost $8,795 in August.
Council member Patrice Robinson said she received numerous calls and emails in recent days from constituents upset police were protecting the statues. But MPD told the council they have been present in the parks around-the-clock to ensure the peace.
"The citizens were concerned we were spending a lot of taxpayer dollars monitoring just a statue," Robinson said.
Council members acknowledged the cost of policing the parks isn't something they want to continue long-term, and it could affect how the council moves forward with the statue issue.
"We have limited resources and a lot of needs, and how we spend those resources is important and spending on the statues--we realize we have better needs," council member Worth Morgan said.