It was arguably, the low point in the rough and tumble GOP primary season: a raucous would-be Donald Trump rally at the U.I.C Pavilion March 11. An estimated six thousand people vied for space inside the arena for what was supposed to be an appearance by the then-ascending Trump before an adoring crowd.
Along with thousands outside.
“After speaking with law enforcement,” Trump told CNN by phone, “I just thought it would be a wise thing to postpone this rally.”
By then, of course, the damage was done. The rally never happened, amid screaming matches inside and outside the packed arena, with the two sides separated in the streets by scores of Chicago Police.
Make that 255 Chicago Police, to be exact.
Overtime numbers from that evening, obtained by NBC5 Investigates show that the city mobilized 1 Deputy Chief, 2 commanders, 4 lieutenants, and 26 sergeants along with those hundreds of officers. And a helicopter, staffed by one police officer and a sergeant.
The total tab for the evening? A whopping $103,264.19 in overtime wages and comp time, for officers who worked an estimated 2750 hours. All at a rally where contrary to Trump’s statements, police say they never advised him not to come.
“I can assure you that we told the Trump campaign that we had more than adequate resources outside the UIC Pavilion,” acting superintendent John Escalante told reporters the following morning. “And we guaranteed that we could provide safe access and exit for Mr. Trump.”
And the tab for that evening? It was paid by the taxpayers.
“The cost of police staffing during the Trump rally was covered by the Chicago Police Department, since Mr. Trump, as a presidential candidate, is provided official protection,” CPD said in a statement. “Additionally, extra staffing during first amendment events such as public rallies and demonstrations are absorbed by the Department. CPD may charge for staffing at for-profit events or certain events that charge admission.”