Occupy Fresno cost tops $100 thousand

FRESNO, Calif.

As of this mid-November, the county has spent more than 130 thousand dollars policing the demonstrators.

This is the 45th day of the Occupy movement in Courthouse Park.

And for the past three weeks, sheriff's deputies have been at the park on a nightly basis, arresting people who violate an ordinance that prohibits overnight loitering.

A chilly night in downtown Fresno wasn't enough to keep occupy protestors away from Courthouse Park Tuesday.

And that persistence now has a price tag of more than $100 thousand.

"That is absolutely ridiculous when they could be out there catching real criminals," Chris Johnson of Fresno said.

You can see the bulk of the expense comes from the sheriff's department - $102 thousand. When you add the costs of prisoner processing for 92 arrests, the total goes to more than $134 thousand.

Fresno County supervisor Henry Perea calls it a poor way to spend taxpayer dollars, regardless of what you think of the occupy movement.

"It just begs the question when you have a county that's budget is in the red in some areas, you have to really think twice about how you're going to allocate your resources. Does it make sense to allocate this much money for somebody's who's loitering in a park?" Perea said.

For its part, the Sheriff's Department is defending its decision to enforce a county ordinance prohibiting overnight loitering.

Deputy Chris Curtice says it's the protesters that are costing the county, but here they don't agree.

"The laws are put there for a specific reason. The big laws and the little laws. And we don't pick which ones we're going to enforce we enforce all of them," Curtice said.

The protesters don't agree.

Robert Williams works for the county. He says the money could be better spent.

"When they want to ask us to take a cut in pay - and then they do this - why?" Williams asked.

With neither side backing down, there's no telling how much more will be spent.

A sheriff's spokesperson told Action News the costs associated with the sheriff's department are going down because they're no longer responding with as many officers as they did in the beginning.

That being said, that $134 thousand figure doesn't even include any deputy pay for the last week and a half.

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