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Taxpayers paid big money to protect Trump border wall prototypes from protests that didn’t happen

Border wall prototypes.
(Los Angeles Times)

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputies, fearing large-scale protests over the construction of prototypes for President Trump’s proposed border wall project last fall, logged more than 10,000 hours of overtime in a three-month period before and after project construction.

The department had previously disclosed it spent $764,278 on overtime for security. It was the largest single expenditure — more than the $715,170 in wages paid out — of a total expense of $1.6 million.

In all, some 356 employees racked up overtime hours on 46 separate dates from Sept. 7 through Dec. 15, according to a county spokeswoman. Collectively, they totaled 10,227 hours of overtime work.

A more precise breakdown of the overtime payouts was not provided. Spokeswoman Alex Bell said that the amount of overtime varied by employee.

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“Public safety staffing is dynamic, and the Sheriff’s Department scaled up and down staffing as necessary based on intelligence information over the three-month period,” Bell said in an email that accompanied the information.

Deputies did not provide security for the construction site itself, located near the international border on Otay Mesa. Instead, the security was for anticipated protests, demonstrations or marches that Department of Homeland Security officials had warned local law enforcement could occur.

No protests occurred during the monthlong construction of the eight prototype walls. Local activists said they ignored the project so as not to draw attention to it.

Bell said the “majority” of overtime hours were logged from the period of Sept. 25 through Oct. 1, the first week of construction work. Another chunk came for a small rally near the site held Dec. 9, long after the walls were up and construction crews had departed.


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