County seeks $5.6M reimbursement for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago security bill

Updated July 12, 2018
President Donald Trump departs Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday April 22, 2018. He greeted and took photographs with motorcycle units from Delray Beach, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County taxpayers fronted more than $5.7 million to help protect President Donald Trump during his 10 visits to Mar-a-Lago between November and April, figures provided Thursday show.

The federal government is expected to reimburse local governments for the expenses. A congressional budget agreement signed by Trump in March sets aside $41 million to repay local law enforcement agencies for “extraordinary … personnel costs” to protect the president when he visits his private residences in Palm Beach, New York and New Jersey.

A similar pot of federal money was used in 2017 to reimburse Palm Beach County taxpayers for $3.4 million in security costs incurred during the first three months of Trump’s presidency.

Most of the 2017-2018 law enforcement costs were racked up by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, which takes the lead among local agencies in assisting the Secret Service during presidential visits. The agency spent $5.6 million on overtime during Trump’s 2017-18 trips, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Thursday in response to a query from The Palm Beach Post.

Aside from the sheriff’s costs, the town of Palm Beach said in April that it spent $115,156 on police overtime during Trump’s 2017-18 visits and West Palm Beach said it spent $68,500.

Trump’s 10 trips to Mar-a-Lago covered at least a portion of 47 days and included Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter visits as well as an April summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The sheriff’s presidential details are paid entirely with overtime so that routine law enforcement operations are not compromised, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has said.

Bradshaw last month told the Palm Beach County School District that the commitment to protect the president is one of several reasons the sheriff’s office “CAN NOT provide a large number of deputies on an overtime basis” to help beef up school security.

Bradshaw also said regional anti-terrorism efforts, staffing large concerts and “numerous extra duty assignments” put a limit on available deputy overtime hours.

Rather than dip into overtime, Bradshaw offered to hire and provide 50 full-time deputies for school patrols for one year, for an estimated $7 million.

Trump personally thanked local law enforcement officers in April at the end of his last Mar-a-Lago visit for the 2017-18 season. The president greeted motorcycle officers and posed for pictures at Palm Beach International Airport before he boarded Air Force One.

“Thank you to the incredible Law Enforcement Officers from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. They keep us safe and are very cool about it!” Trump later tweeted along with a picture of himself surrounded by local officers.