While city officials say it’s too soon to measure the financial cost
of the recent national move to a heightened state of alert for
terrorism, increased staffing and other precautions could become a
Shortly before the start of the war in Iraq, the Department of
Homeland Security raised the national threat level to orange, which
signifies a high risk of a terrorist attack.
Burbank Police raised their deployments at about the same time,
and that move could eventually affect the city’s budget in terms of
overtime costs, Financial Services Director Derek Hanway said.
However, he said it would be about a month until officials see how
much those costs have increased.
“It is possible we’re going to have to go back and look at more
appropriations, but it’s still a bit too early to tell,” he said.
Police officials are attempting to keep costs down by restricting
the number of days off that officers take, Sgt. Bruce Speirs said.
“Any time the department faces a man-made or natural disaster, the
first thing we do is restrict our personnel so they can’t take time
off,” he said.
By not allowing officers to take vacation time, police officials
have been able to fill their additional deployment without having to
bring in officers on their days off. On a few occasions, particularly
when several officers are required to be in court, Speirs said
officers have been brought in on overtime, which costs the department
about $50 per hour.
Speirs said the number of officers on the streets varies by the
hour and declined to say how much deployments have increased. He did
say that the average minimum patrol deployment is between 15 and 20
officers, but could go as high as 30. That number doesn’t include
detectives, motorcycle officers and others assigned to various
Even if the total amount of overtime is relatively small, Hanway
said if staffing remains elevated for a long period of time, it could
incur a significant cost. When deployments were raised immediately
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and remained in place for about
five months, he said the city spent almost $500,000 extra on
The fire department has not raised its deployments as a result of
the heightened terror alert, Assistant Chief Norm Stockton said. The
department’s biggest financial concern related to terrorism is being
able to get grant money to pay for added equipment and training, he
It is not known how long police deployments will remain
heightened, but Speirs said the department assesses threats on an
individual basis, rather than relying solely on the National Terror