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County feels effect of Ferguson costs

The cost of the civil disturbance in Ferguson has reached across the Missouri River into St. Charles County.

That’s because officers from the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department and various county municipalities put in overtime to assist law enforcement efforts in Ferguson during August and November. The officers were deployed after St. Louis County police requested help, and those overtime pay costs are being compiled now.

St. Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer said the cost of overtime for county sheriff’s deputies and local municipal police officers might be more than $30,000.

Neer discussed the overtime during a County Council work session on the county budget on Dec. 1. In a later interview, he said that 14 officers from various departments in St. Charles County, who are part of the county’s regional SWAT team, were available to assist in St. Louis County in early August and for Nov. 24 and 25.

The county’s SWAT team members include officers from St. Charles, St. Peters, O’Fallon, Wentzville, Lake Saint Louis and Cottleville, under the direction of the county Sheriff’s Department. Neer said the amount of overtime for the five days in August may amount to about $24,000 for county deputies and that the additional two days in November may bring that total up to about $38,000.  However, final numbers still are being tabulated as overtime figures from municipalities have not come in yet.

“They’ve agreed to pay their own unless federal money comes out of the sky,” Joann Leykam, the county’s director of administration, told councilmembers on Dec. 1.

Councilmember Joe Cronin (District 1) said he wondered if the mutual aid agreements the county has with other law enforcement agencies provide enough benefit to county residents given the cost.

“Are you talking about dollars or human lives?” Neer asked.

“Probably both,” Cronin said. He added that providing the assistance was Neer’s decision and that he (Neer) probably asked the same question of himself.

“Every day,” Neer said.

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