On September 21, dueling anti- and pro-ICE protesters gathered outside of the GEO immigrant detention facility in Aurora. The Aurora Police Department, working together with multiple other local and state law enforcement agencies, sent more than 400 officers to watch over the demonstrators.
It turned out to be a very expensive operation.
According to information obtained through an open records request, the department paid $187,818 in overtime fees to the 363 off-duty Aurora Police Department officers who were assigned to the protest. The sheriff's offices of Adams, Douglas, and Arapahoe counties, the Boulder Police Department, and Colorado State Patrol sent a total of 114 officers to assist APD in patrolling the event.
It's by far the most the Aurora Police Department has paid in overtime fees for an event this year. The second-largest amount, $26,110, was for the Lights for Liberty protest outside the detention facility on July 12, according to the Aurora Sentinel.
APD spokesperson Crystal K. McCoy declined to specify whether $187,818 was the largest amount ever spent on off-duty officers for an event in the city, and declined to elaborate on how the department determined the number of officers it sent to the protest.
"The decisions made for safety measures were based upon information available publicly and provided by event organizers," McCoy wrote in an email to Westword.
The September 21 protest came two days after a few hundred anti-ICE protesters gathered in a residential neighborhood in Aurora to protest outside the home of Johnny Choate, the warden of the GEO detention facility. The police presence there cost the city only $22,445 in overtime fees, bringing the total amount expended on off-duty Aurora officers patrolling protests in September to over $200,000.
At a September 23 Aurora City Council meeting, a woman named Tanya Notkoff asked councilmembers, "Why should these protesters pass a cost to local citizens where they protest? With social media, we can identify who is participating and we can bill them." Notkoff also noted that she had protested at the pro-ICE rally on September 21.
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