2016 was a busy time for La Crosse, as several candidates for president made campaign stops and it will soon be busy again ahead of Wisconsin’s presidential primary next April.
“The La Crosse area has been a regular stop for a lot of our presidential campaigns and during that time it puts a lot of added burden on the police department for providing security,” said Sgt. Tom Walsh of the La Crosse Police Department.
In the past, the La Crosse Police Department would only invoice campaigns for the overtime staffing the visit required, but the city still has three unpaid invoices from 2016 presidential campaign stops, totaling more than $10,000.
Now, ahead of the 2020 election cycle, La Crosse police has put a new policy in which will require presidential campaigns to provide a 50% up-front payment for the department’s anticipated overtime expenses.
They say the policy targets presidential candidates because of the additional security they require.
“They really do require a lot of police assistance when they come in for not only route security, but site and venue security,” Walsh said.
The police department says it wants to avoid unpaid invoices, not because officers don’t get paid, but because it ends up coming out of the taxpayer’s wallet.
“When these candidates come in and they utilize the police and they utilize our resources to provide this added security, the money comes out of our overtime budget which is paid for by the taxpayers,” Walsh said.
Walsh believes these invoices would not be a financial burden on the candidates.
“When you start looking at those presidential campaigns, they are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars,” Walsh said. “At this point, the police department is just asking for the overtime related security costs that are associated with these campaigns when they come in here to the city of La Crosse.”
The department announced the policy now before any visits have been scheduled to make clear the department is not making any political statements.