Port Sees Sky-Rocketing Security Costs after Protests

June 5, 2006
Gates damaged, extra security hired to fulfill shipments at Port of Olympia

Jun. 2--The recent protests over military shipments will cost the Port of Olympia at least $7,500, a figure that's sure to increase as costs for the police response on Monday and Tuesday are determined.

The port estimates it will cost $5,000 to replace two gates damaged by protesters, and $2,500 in staff time to clean up the Port Plaza, said Jim Amador, the agency's marine terminal director.

The military pays the port for the 24-hour security detail it requires to guard the shipments. Off-duty sheriff's deputies sign up to fill those positions.

The total cost to secure the shipment was more than $31,000.

The Port of Olympia will bear the cost of the extra police response needed when protests escalated Monday and Tuesday night.

Authorities used pepper spray several times to disburse the crowd.

Agencies that responded included the Washington State Patrol and Olympia and Tumwater police departments.

The Thurston County Sheriff's Office and Olympia Police Department were waiting for officers to turn in time sheets to determine the overall security costs.

"We think it's going to be rather significant," Olympia police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad said.

The figure won't include the cost of officers from other city programs who were diverted to assist during the protests. The department dispatched its school resource officers, traffic unit and downtown walking patrol to help at the port, Bjornstad said, at a cost that's "difficult to place a dollar amount on."

Port employees spent Wednesday cleaning up Port Plaza and collecting three truckloads of garbage, Amador said.

"There was litter everywhere," he said.

In addition, employees spent four to six hours pressure-

washing messages written by protesters, he said.

The port should know within the next two weeks how much it made from the shipment. It awaits the manifest from the 833rd Transportation Battalion before the military can be billed, Amador said.

The costs are based on a mix of weight, number of vehicles and man-hours, he explained.

Asked if the protests would stop the port from handling military shipments, Amador replied, "We continue to do our mission, and we leave the law enforcement to the law enforcers. We encourage peaceful demonstration. When it's not peaceful, then we allow the law enforcers."