The bills are in, and the tally is substantial. Charlottesville, Albemarle County, the University of Virginia and the state spent more than $4.5 million to provide security for the anniversary of violent summer protests.
Virginia State Police picked up the largest tab for security -- $3.1 million. Corinne Geller speaks for the agency.
“Based on what we experienced in 2017, the Virginia State Police and our local partners spent roughly nine months preparing for 2018, and as a result we were able to dedicate additional resources and be more expansive and comprehensive with our assignments leading into that weekend,” she explains.
And because it was a two-day observance rather than one, she said, the state paid overtime and lodging costs for about 700 officers and civilians. Charlottesville was relatively quiet, so on the 12th Geller says some officers were sent to the Washington, D.C. area where organizer Jason Kessler had decided to hold this summer’s alt-right rally.
“State police did redirect some of our resources that were in the city of Charlottesville for the weekend of August 11 and 12 to Northern Virginia to assist local and state agencies up there – especially at the Metro stations where there was concern about problems as the alt-right individuals and Kessler came out of D.C. and back into Virginia,” Geller says.
Critics have said planners assigned too many police to the event, but Geller says the state did what it had to do.
“We are there to fulfill our mission of serving and protecting, and that’s what we were there to do, and we would also like to think that because we had such a significant presence, because we had the training, we had the equipment necessary, that is what minimized the potential for violence.”
The state spent under a million dollars to police the troubled rally in 2017. This year, the city of Charlottesville spent as much to police the anniversary, and the University of Virginia shelled out nearly $423,000.