NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As the Predators quest for the cup gets underway, the Metro Nashville Police Department is having to supply additional officers who work overtime to help with the viewing parties and other special events surrounding the Predators.
During the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nashville showed the country that they were a hockey town, but with it came thousands of people downtown for each game to watch the game from outside the stadium.
Those people needed to be protected. That hasn’t changed.
“You know, Chief Anderson has said, and it’s very true, that it’s a new normal, based on what’s happened in the United States and around the world. It’s clear that security is, public safety is, at the top of
everyone’s mind in these special events,” Don Aaron, spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said.
The officers at the events are all working on overtime or extra duty, as to not be pulled away from the duties they’re already assigned to.
“It’s not fair to pull officers from your neighborhood or your community to come staff a special event when your neighborhood or your community has its own public safety issues,” Aaron explained.
For the Predators first game in the playoffs, about 50 police officers will be on extra duty working the event.
“They’ll be out here in the streets, they’ll be walking through the park, they’ll be on fixed posts, they will be doing everything possible to ensure that Nashvillians, Preds Fans, stay safe,” Aaron
The Metro Nashville Police Department budget for overtime is about $7 million, and about half of that is allocated for special event coverage.
While the department is expected to go over budget in the overtime department, they are planning to pull from money saved in other areas to cover the cost, so they still come in within budget at the end of
the fiscal year.
While the overtime budget has increased over the years, it will have to continue to increase as long as Nashville remains the “it” city and continues to host events that not just locals attend, but people from
all over the world.
“As Nashville has grown, special events have grown exponentially,” Aaron explained. “You know, in 2006, to fund our special events budget in the police department, it was less than a million dollars, in 2006. Here in 2018, we’re in excess of $4 million.”
Some have suggested hiring extra officers to help work the events to keep the department from having to pay overtime, but the department found that hiring more officers would actually be more expensive to
the taxpayer than simply paying overtime.
“If we were to do away with overtime and still staff special events with officers not impacting the neighborhoods, we’d have to hire about 114 new officers,” Aaron explained. “The cost of 114 new officers
would be about twice as much as the overtime being paid for special events throughout the city.”
Aaron said in addition to keeping the people of Nashville safe, working the events around the city allows officers to interact with the people they protect.