San Francisco police officers were paid more than $143,000 in overtime during the July 8 Dolores Park hill bomb, an annual skateboarding event that was shut down earlier this year and resulted in the arrests of 117 mostly young people.
The costs, tallied by the San Francisco Police Department in response to a public records request, include only overtime pay. The department said a total of 1,221 overtime hours were used by officers during the enforcement. Using the average overtime pay rate, the department calculated a total overtime cost for the operation: $143,236.
The department clarified that it was “nearly impossible” to disentangle general overtime costs during that time period from operation-specific overtime costs, and that “some of that figure came from SFPD use of overtime to backfill our basic staffing needs.”
The enforcement action resulted in dozens of teenagers being rounded up by officers after police moved to curtail the event. Though the event has, in years past, also seen a heavy police presence — and participants and bystanders have been injured or, in the case of a cyclist struck by a skater in 2020, killed — the police operation in July was the largest in its history.
It was also San Francisco’s biggest mass arrest of teenagers in at least six years: A total of 117 people, 83 of them minors, were arrested in connection with the event, the vast majority encircled by police officers and made to sit on the street or stand outside for hours. The cases against all but two of the minors, and the vast majority of the adults, have been dropped.
The operation involved dozens of officers on foot and several vehicles: Police motorcycles, vans and squad cars; also, several Muni buses were used to transport the arrested teenagers a block away to the police station. The police had, earlier in the day, set up barricades along Dolores Street to prevent skating downhill.
The overtime costs provided today did not include those associated costs. The city suffered other costs, too, namely $70,000 in damages to Muni vehicles by attendees spray-painting light-rail vehicles and buses near the park.
“Wow, okay — that’s high,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Benedicto upon learning the overtime costs. Benedicto has criticized the police response on July 8 as heavy-handed, and said this new number only solidified his belief: “This doesn’t strike me as the most efficient use of our resources.”
The public costs may not end there: Many of those arrested have vowed to file a class-action suit against the city, and Rachel Lederman, a civil rights attorney who has met with dozens of parents and teenagers, said Monday that a federal suit is taking shape.
“It’s going to be filed as a class action with five named class representatives who are all minors, a cross-section of the folks who were arrested,” she said. She said the five named plaintiffs would be teenagers, 13 to 17, who were participants in the hill bomb, observing the skating event, or “simply swept up when they were standing in line for ice cream or going about other business.”
The suit will be filed in federal court alleging violations of the plaintiffs’ First and Fourth Amendment rights, Lederman said, as well as violations under California civil rights laws. The court would have to approve the suit as a class action.
The costs to the city of such a suit are unclear — the City Attorney’s Office could offer to settle with plaintiffs, or a jury could award damages — but Lederman pointed to a recent $13 million payment by New York City to settle a lawsuit alleging unlawful arrest of 1,380 people during the George Floyd protests. That settlement amounted to some $10,000 apiece for recipients.
Potential costs are “all over the board,” Lederman said, but plaintiffs “should be compensated significantly.”