Island police departments bear burden of Presidential vacation expenses

Island police departments bear burden of Presidential vacation expenses

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Several Island police department budgets took a hit over the course of President Obama’s two-week vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. The Secret Service requests help with crowd control and traffic control as the president moves around the Island to visit golf courses, beaches, and restaurants. Those services are not reimbursed by the federal government.

The Oak Bluffs police department estimates about $13,000 in extra hours and overtime for police officers. Police were requested to help when the president visited Farm Neck Golf Club six times during the first family’s 16-day vacation. The president also dined at the Sweet Life Cafe and attended the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks display Friday night.

In Edgartown, Chief Tony Bettencourt estimated his department spent approximately $3,500 on extra shifts and overtime associated with the president’s vacation. It was an unusually expensive year for Edgartown. The Secret Service called on the department to provide officers for the arrival and departure of the president at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. This year there was an extra arrival and departure, when the president briefly returned to Washington, D.C., in the middle of his vacation. The president also dined at the Edgartown restaurant Atria, and appeared at the Edgartown School for a statement on the murder of journalist Jim Foley by terrorists. Michelle Obama also traveled to Edgartown for lunch.

Those costs were offset by the $14,200 in rent the government paid for the use of the Edgartown School, which served as the White House media center. That rental fee goes into the town’s general fund.

The Secret Service called on West Tisbury police to cover two shifts during the president’s arrival and departure from the airport, at an estimated cost of $720.

Because the president rented in Chilmark, that town’s police department, one of the Island’s smallest, was called upon to provide daily coverage. Chilmark police chief Brian Cioffi declined to comment on the costs to his department. “I do not comment on the financial aspects or the security aspects of a presidential visit,” Chief Cioffi said. In an email statement, executive secretary Tim Carroll said town department heads have not yet submitted those costs.

Under normal circumstances, there are four State Police officers assigned to the Vineyard. The presidential visit swelled their ranks to more than 16. No costs were immediately available for overtime and rental accommodations.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police also assigned an additional officer to the Island, in addition to the sergeant now assigned.

Police departments in Tisbury and Aquinnah did not have any extra costs associated with Mr. Obama’s visit this year.