Northampton invoiced more than $26K for police details at protest

  • Protesters gather during a standoff with police officers during a demonstration organized by Black Trans Lives Matter Saturday on June 6 on Gothic Street in Northampton.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Several thousand gathered on Center Street in front of the Northampton Police Department for a “Stand Up for Black Lives!” protest, listen to Jasmine Sinclair, center, with red mask, read a list of demands on June 6.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 6/22/2020 6:34:01 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The June 6 protest that drew thousands of people to the city’s downtown streets cost the Northampton Police Department at least $26,660 for police details it requested, records show.

Invoices submitted earlier this month from six area departments — Easthampton Police Department, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Department, Hadley Police Department, Amherst Police Department, the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office, and Southwick Police Department — totaled $26,659.79. The Gazette obtained the invoices through a public records request.

In the days following the protest, organized by Black Trans Lives Matter, some residents questioned the heavy police presence — and wondered how much it cost. Images of state police cruisers parked in a lot on King Street, police officers filing into the courthouse, and at least one armored, military-style vehicle driving downtown spread on social media before the protest against racial violence and police brutality began. In addition, some city residents have taken  issue with what they described as a heavy and militarized police presence during public comment sessions at recent City Council meetings. 

There was no invoice submitted from the state police as of last week. The Massachusetts State Police doesn’t charge for providing backup — the state pays for that, according to Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper, but municipalities can charge for what they call mutual aid.

According to the invoices, at least 63 officers from other departments were present at the June 6 Northampton protest: 21 Easthampton Police Department officers, 13 Amherst Police Department officers, six Hadley Police Department officers, one Southwick Police Department officer, eight officers from the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office, and 14 officers from the UMass Amherst Police Department.

Easthampton officers were paid a total of $8,457; UMass Amherst officers $7,026; Amherst officers $6,385; Hampshire County Sheriff Office officers $3,159; Hadley officers $1,104; and a Southwick police sergeant $529, according to invoices.

Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti was the highest paid — his hourly rate for detail work is $97.34, and he is receiving $924.73 for providing back up during the protest.

The money used to pay for the invoices will come from the Northampton Police Department’s overtime budget, Kasper wrote in an email to the Gazette on Friday. The department has a $209,347 budget for overtime in the current fiscal year, according to Kasper. 

The weekend of the protest, Kasper stated in a Facebook post that police from Amherst, Easthampton, Hadley and UMass Amherst, as well as the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office, were there to assist “if the peaceful protest turned violent.” Eight officers stood guard outside the city’s police station, while other officers, including state police, were standing by in the police station and at the Hampshire County Courthouse.

Explaining the police presence, Kasper told the Gazette earlier this month that “with four to six thousand people coming into our community, we’re going to have backup units available.” She said that at a previous protest in early June, there was vandalism and someone threw rocks at officers. At that same demonstration, police pepper-sprayed several protesters.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.

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