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Manhunt, bombing response cost Watertown police $250k; state, federal aid sought

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  May 22, 2013 09:25 AM

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Watertown Chief Ed Deveau said Tuesday that the events that unfolded during the week of the Boston Marathon bombings will cost the police department upwards of $250,000 – but he hopes the town won’t have to bear the cost.

Deveau said he expects over $250,000 in overtime and equipment charges stemming from the incident, though he cautioned the final numbers “are not even close to being completed yet.”

Deveau said the department is working with the federal and Massachusetts emergency management agencies for reimbursement.

“Based on our involvement in the Boston bombings and then with everything coming out to Watertown, we’ve created a credible amount of increased monies in overtime and equipment,” Deveau said. “We’re working with FEMA and MEMA to try and get those costs covered.”

He also said that “it is our hope” to make sure the town would not have to pay any additional expenses related to the Boston Marathon events.

Late on the night of April 18, the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects came to Watertown after hijacking a car, and engaged in a shootout with police. As events unfolded, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was shot fatally and run over by his younger brother, Dzhokhar, 19, who was attempting to escape. Dzhokhar was captured the next evening in a boat parked behind a house on Franklin Street in Watertown, after a massive manhunt.

Communities around the region are beginning to tally the costs of the huge police response during the week of the bombings. In Milton, police estimated they spent $23,000 on officers related to the marathon bombings and manhunt.

In Watertown, officials hope that federal and state money could help alleviate the town’s financial responsibilities: Watertown’s police budget has been continually shrinking over the past decade, leading the now 65-person department to cut eight officers in as many years, Deveau said.

And as the town’s police budget hearing scheduled for Tuesday, June 4 looms, Deveau said he hopes the town-wide support shown since the events will be reflected in the accounting books.

“I think it’s a dialogue we need to have moving forward,” Deveau said of the events affecting budget decisions. “We all recognize the bombing in Boston has changed the landscape. Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown need to look at their police services, and see if they need more staffing.”

Next fiscal year’s public safety budget in Watertown is proposed at $15.9 million, compared to last fiscal year’s $15.5 million, according to town documents.

Deveau also noted that the creation of the Watertown Police Foundation, which takes contributions and also profits from the police-specific "Watertown Strong" shirts, will help the department fund much-needed police training sessions and community outreach programs.

“I’m hoping the foundation will be able to give us a shot in the arm, and help get our officers back into the specialized training that we’ve missed in the last five to seven years after state cuts,” he said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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