The call came in on Sunday night — the president of the United States would be making a campaign stop in Golden Thursday morning Sept. 13. That …
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The call came in on Sunday night — the president of the United States would be making a campaign stop in Golden Thursday morning Sept. 13.
That meant outdoor space for a rally of more than 8,000 would have to be prepared, along with road closures, crowd control and law enforcement security to go with it.
Four years ago, then presidential candidate Barack Obama made a campaign stop at the Colorado School of Mines, but Golden Police Captain Daryl Hollingsworth said the difference between the two visits was hard to even compare.
“The first time, he just had a few Secret Service guys following him. This time, I couldn't even count the number of guys with him, nor would they tell us how many there were,” Hollingsworth said.
By all accounts, the entire visit went smoothly, to the credit of the city staff of Golden. But what does it take for a small municipality to handle a visit from the leader of the most powerful nation in the world?
About $8,900, it turns out.
City spokesperson Karlyn Tilley said “it was a scramble to try to make it work,” but that key staff members worked around the clock to ensure planning for the event was completed in time. The president was asked to pay the Lions Park rental fee, as well as an additional fee to compensate the city for having to close the Golden Community Center for a day. The POTUS was also charged an additional rush fee, for the quick turn-around time on the park rental.
“We will review impacts to other parts of the organization, and compare them to similar events, as well as seeking information from merchants on economic benefits, and calculating the benefit of international exposure,” Tilley said, adding that she anticipated the city would ask for additional expense reimbursement in the near future once all departments, including the parks and recreation department and public works department finished their calculations.
Most city staff had the option of taking that Thursday off, due to the crowds and closed streets. The city's volunteer firefighters and the police force were called in to help work crowd control and security. Capt. Hollingsworth said the department scheduled Thursday as their “all on” day, minimizing the amount of overtime for the department.
“Our job was to provide security for the perimeter,” Hollingsworth said.
Joining Golden police department on security were officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado School of Mines Police and the Denver Police Department.
Hollingsworth said the “very professional” Secret Service handled the details of the president's security.
“One of the Secret Service agents mentioned that it was the first time that they'd had to work with a large mountain in the backdrop,” Hollingsworth said.
Out of that security concern, Lookout Mountain Road was closed during the rally.
Hollingsworth echoed confusion over one part of these political rally visits that has been heard across the country: Why doesn't the Secret Service refund any law enforcement costs?
“I'm told it's something they just don't do,” Hollingsworth said.
A spokesperson for Jefferson County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the county does not typically receive any reimbursement for the expense of protecting dignitaries, including events like the Mitt Romney rally held last month.
Tilley said the president's visit was just the latest event that Golden has had.
“Politics aside, the city of Golden was honored to be able to host a sitting president of the United States and give Golden the opportunity to shine in the national spotlight.”
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