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Trump’s rally in Lynden cost taxpayers $155,000 and counting

Trump supporters sound off at Lynden rally

Trump supporters Louis Pantano and Victor Artis sound off for Trump while waiting to see him in Lynden, Wash., on Saturday, May 7, 2016.
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Trump supporters Louis Pantano and Victor Artis sound off for Trump while waiting to see him in Lynden, Wash., on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Donald Trump’s last-minute rally in Lynden cost the taxpayers of Whatcom County and Western Washington at least $155,400, which more than likely won’t be reimbursed.

More than $129,000 of that cost was to Whatcom County agencies, including police departments, fire departments, emergency management and the Port of Bellingham.

Trump’s Saturday, May 7, rally was officially announced late Thursday, May 5, giving the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies little time to prepare to provide security at what was expected to be a contentious event.

The now virtually certain Republican nominee rented the Lynden Fairgrounds for the event after many other venues didn’t pan out, including a hangar at Boeing Field.

$155,407.43 Cost so far (notably missing some key agencies) to staff police, fire, and other agencies for the May 7 Donald Trump rally in Lynden

Hundreds of officers provided security and helped keep the peace between thousands of Trump supporters and hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the event to show their disdain for Trump’s stances on immigration, women and other topics.

Though protesters and Trump supporters at times screamed at one another, the scene stayed fairly peaceful, with the day’s large police presence simply standing between the sides when things heated up.

In total, three people were arrested for blocking the Guide Meridian around 3 p.m., the time the presidential candidate had been scheduled to arrive at Bellingham International Airport.

Both Bellingham Police Department and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, which was the lead agency, called in all off-duty officers and deputies who weren’t on vacation to work for the event, Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks said.

The sheriff’s office staffed the fairgrounds in Lynden, Bellingham International Airport, routes around the county, and had employees at the Emergency Operations Center near the airport that was used for central communications and command, Parks said.

They also called in agencies from all over Western Washington, including Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police Department, Bellevue Police Department, Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, and a variety of Snohomish County agencies that responded through the Allied Law Enforcement Response Team.

It appears the various agencies will eat the costs of staffing the event. Political candidates and elected officials traditionally do not reimburse agencies for the cost burden their visits create.

“It would go on the books, we already have an established budget for this year,” Parks said. “If we run short, say in our overtime ... then we would go in and ask for back-fill if it looks like we won’t make it through the year.”

The sheriff’s office also used some overtime to help Skagit County with the Break Free PNW fossil fuel protest at the two Skagit County refineries the weekend after the Trump rally.

“The big takeaway is that because we do work together on a regular basis, those relationships helped us gather our resources quickly,” Parks said. “In addition, because we were already planning to support Skagit County with the Break Free protests in Anacortes, they had already been talking to regional commanders.”

Below is a breakdown, by agency, of the costs to respond to the event. Some figures are estimated as closely as possible, some may include benefits and per diem costs while others may not. The figures are not broken down into who was paid overtime vs. regular time.

The $155,407.43 total reflected in the list below does not include the costs to all agencies.

Notably, it doesn’t yet include costs to Washington State Patrol, which sent about 80 troopers; Seattle Police Department, which sent about 20 officers; Bellevue Police Department, which sent about 28 officers, or to federal agencies such as Homeland Security, the FBI or the Secret Service.

Whatcom County agencies

Bellingham Fire Department: $3,662.80

Bellingham Police Department: $38,553.87

Ferndale Police Department: $3,712.17

Lynden Fire Department: $5,130.14

Lynden Police Department: $4,345.81

North Whatcom Fire and Rescue: $11,322.72

Port of Bellingham/Bellingham International Airport: $4,387

Sumas Police Department: $450

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: $862

Whatcom County Fire District 14: $413.64

Whatcom County Fire District 7: $1,385.10

Whatcom County Fire District 1: $428.58

Whatcom County Public Works: $396.60

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office: $52,066.67

Whatcom Transportation Authority: $640

What-Comm 911 Communication Center: $1,635

Outside Whatcom

Skagit County Sheriff’s Office: $5,000.90

Bothell Police Department: $2,934.72

Lynnwood Police Department: $5,455.34

Everett Police Department: $5,974.37

Mukilteo Police Department: $1,612

Edmonds Police Department: $5,038

Total tally available so far: $155,407.43

Samantha Wohlfeil: 360-715-2274, @SAWohlfeil

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