The cost of protecting a Mayor: How Little Rock could compare to other towns

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock Police confirm they are still organizing the Mayor’s new police protection detail so they don’t have the exact figure of how much it will cost but there are other cities that utilize police officers to protect Mayors.

After our story aired Wednesday night, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s Senior Adviser Kendra Pruitt tweeted a list of cities that use a police detail to protect their Mayor, some of the cities are comparable in size to Little Rock.

Let’s start over the river in Memphis, a population of 652,000. The Mayor’s protection detail, which is 24/7, totaled up to an overtime bill of $200,000 in 2017.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland faced scrutiny for the big bill but defended his detail because of death threats against him and his family.

Last year, he read one of the threats he received.

“The Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee illegally circumvented state law removing two Confederate statues in the darkness of night. I hope some sick (deleted obscenities) blows the Mayor’s skull to fragments on his doorstep,” read Mayor Strickland.

Three hours southeast in Birmingham, Alabama, a population of about 210,000 and about 10,000 more than Little Rock, it’s Mayor has a four-member security detail. A police spokesperson confirms the detail is not 24/7 protection.

A newspaper in Birmingham reported last year the team cost the City more than $1.4 million in just two and a half years.

The officers protecting their previous Mayor averaged more than $400,000 a year in salary and overtime even though the highest paid among them made $61,000 in regular pay.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, a population of about 192,000, a TV station reported four officers on the Mayor’s detail working weekly rotations. Its department has budgeted for travel and overtime but doesn’t have a total cost yet because the detail started this year.

In Columbia, South Carolina, we’re waiting on an exact cost but the department said its protection detail consists of one police officer who is on-call.

Pruitt’s tweet also referenced Nashville but we did not include that city’s stats because their Mayor resigned last year after pleading guilty to approving improper overtime for a cop on her protection detail who she was also having an affair with.

On Thursday, Little Rock Board of Director Lance Hines said he believed Mayor Scott’s police protection detail would cost taxpayers about $300,000. Director Hines said between the regular salary for the officers, over time, the 2019 Chevy Tahoe being leased for the detail and fuel it adds up.

A spokesperson for Little Rock Police said it’s too early to know how much it will cost because the unit is still being organized.  Mayor Scott has said the police department is the one who recommended the detail. Documents show officers cited the February bomb threat at City Hall as the reason for the detail. Police confirm the city’s change to a Mayor of government was also taken into consideration when deciding the protection detail.

Currently, there are two Little Rock Police Detectives assigned to the Mayor’s protection detail. Police confirm additional officers will be added to the unit but the exact number hasn’t been decided.

In the first three weeks, the two Detectives assigned to the Mayor has used 172 overtime hours, totaling up to about $6,959.

Some of the overtime being collected is on Tuesdays, during the Board of Directors meeting, when other uniformed police officers are also there.

These financial concerns come at a troubling time for the City of Little Rock as Board members prepare to vote on a proposed budget amendment that would cut 44 city positions.

Click here to read yesterday’s coverage.

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