America Protest Atlanta

Atlanta police prepare to enforce a 9 p.m. curfew as protests continued Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Atlanta.

(The Center Square) – Taxpayers in Atlanta are paying millions of dollars on police overtime amid this year's civil unrest.

In the months since protests against police brutality began in Atlanta in late May, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) has paid out more than $8 million in overtime to employees, according to records obtained by The Center Square.

APD records show 1,765 employees worked about 178,000 overtime hours from June 1 to Sept. 1 – over 70,600 hours of overtime more than during the same period in 2019. From June 1, 2019, to Sept. 1, 2019, the APD spent more than $4.3 million to pay overtime to 1,814 employees.

Despite several requests, the APD did not comment on the amount of overtime hours the department used during the three months, but spokesperson Anthony Grant said the department "continues to monitor demonstration activity and make adjustments as necessary."

A string of demonstrations, which at times turned violent, erupted in downtown Atlanta in late May after a series of killings involving unarmed Black men.

George Floyd was killed on Memorial Day during an arrest by a Minneapolis police officer.

Closer to home, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick in February when father-and-son duo Gregory and Travis McMichael confronted him. Arbery was shot and killed during a fight over Travis McMichael's shotgun.

Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back in June in a Wendy's parking lot in Atlanta after Brooks ran from police officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. The three wrestled in the parking lot when Rolfe tried to take Brooks into custody for failing a sobriety test.

Most of the overtime was worked by uniformed patrol officers. APD uniformed patrol officers' overtime tripled from June to September, according to records. Patrol officers worked more than 94,000 overtime hours. During the same time last year, they worked 30,900 overtime hours.

APD staff also includes airport police and code enforcement officers, criminal investigators, 911 dispatchers, community relations, administrative, recruitment and training employees.

The city of Atlanta earmarked just more than $12 million for police department overtime in fiscal year 2021, which started July 1, budget records show.

The APD also received support from the Georgia Department of Public Safety (GDPS).

Every weekend from July 31 through the end of September, GDPS diverted officers from other duties and assigned them to the Atlanta area. It also collaborated with the National Guard, which was deployed to help protect public property. 

GDPS spent more than $1 million from May through June on meals, lodging, salaries and fringe benefits to support the metropolitan Atlanta area, Lt. Col. Chris Wright said. From July 1 to Sept. 1, the cost for DPS officers has been $461,300, the GDPS official said.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for four years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.