The California Highway Patrol shelled out an additional $166,000 in overtime costs to monitor last month's rally and Occupy demonstration at the state Capitol that protested cuts to higher education, the department said Monday.
CHP deployed an additional 288 uniformed officers to the Capitol for the demonstration, bringing the total number of officers on the scene throughout the day to 367, the department said in response to a Bee inquiry.
The expense included about $6,000 in mileage costs to bring officers from divisions in the Bay Area and the Central Valley, CHP communications director Fran Clader said.
Thousands of students, teachers and activists descended on the Capitol for the March 5 day of action, which was organized by Student Senate for California Community Colleges, California State Student Association and the University of California Student Association.
Speakers at the rally blasted budget cuts to higher education and rising tuition and fees, calling on lawmakers to restore funding for the state's public colleges and universities.
An attempt to occupy the Capitol rotunda, promoted by a group called REFUND California, resulted in 70 individuals being cited and released for trespassing after the building closed for the day, Clader said. Eight other people were arrested throughout the day and evening.
The rally attracted a noticeable law enforcement presence, with horse patrols and roughly 100 officers outfitted in riot gear stationed outside the building at one point in the evening.
Clader said the staffing request was made by the Capitol Protection Services unit, which relied on crowd estimates, event permits and "intelligence that they were able to gather" about the plans to stage a sit-in in the Capitol.
Clader did not have information on how the costs compared to other rallies of similar size, but she said the majority of personnel assigned to the event worked regular shifts that started throughout the day to minimize costs.
Captain Andy Menard, whose unit was responsible for the request, said the staffing level for the rally was the largest response he has seen at the Capitol in his year and a half on the job.
He said a clash between two opposing protest groups that left two officers with minor injuries the previous week also contributed to the decision.
That incident occurred after tensions between a group called the South Africa Project, which was protesting what it said were racially motivated killings of white farmers in South Africa, and Occupy Oakland protesters erupted in violence that shut down several blocks around the Capitol.
"That did have an impact on it," he said. "We were hearing that some of the similar folks that were there were coming back."
No injuries were reported as a result of the higher education rally, he said.
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