A New Jersey Town Spent $89,000 On Overtime For Officers Patrolling Peaceful Jameek Lowery Protests
Lowery died mysteriously days after an encounter with the police.
A New Jersey police department spent $89,000 in overtime expenditures to pay officers patrolling Jameek Lowery protests earlier this year.
Lowrey died mysteriously in January after pleading for his life on Facebook Live while at a police station, Blavity reported. The father of two told his Facebook followers he feared police were trying to harm him; he got into an ambulance after his broadcast, and when it arrived at a local hospital, he was no longer responsive.
Some believe the police are responsible for the 27-year-old's death, and friends, family and supporters took to the streets of downtown Paterson, New Jersey, to demand answers on four separate occasions in January, North Jersey News reports.
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On January 8, the first night of the protests, authorities claim protesters used rocks and debris against officers. The city reportedly spent $22,600 for overtime pay for 37 officers that night alone. Additionally, $9,425 was spent for 26 officers on January 9; $21,300 was paid out for 46 police on January 11; $21,500 for 52 officers on January 12 and $13,125 for 24 police officers on January 15.
Leaders of the protest, such as Corey Teague, are calling the overtime costs “a waste of money.”
“We weren’t out there to wreak havoc,” Teague said. “But the police used this as an opportunity to cash in. This money would have been better spent investigating what happened to Jameek.”
Jerry Speziale, Paterson's public safety director, disagrees. He called the costs a necessary expense to ensure no one got hurt during the protests.
“The first night could have been a volatile situation,” Speziale said. “After that, when things became more peaceful, we didn’t ramp it up as much.”
Some officials, like Councilman Michael Jackson, don't see Speziale's rationale as valid. They argue the protests were peaceful, and there was never any sign demonstrators planned to riot.
“The family never showed any sign of being disorderly or disrespectful,” said Jackson. “Are we afraid of our own people?”
City records show the Paterson Police Department regularly brought in officers for extra shifts; the documents show the department spent approximately $1.29 million in overtime from July 2018 to January 11, 2019.
An investigation into Lowery's death is still ongoing. The police officers who interacted with him at the station have been placed on administrative leave until the inquiry is complete.
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