Santa Clara bills 49ers for cost of team police escorts

Santa Clarans gave their approval for a new 49ers stadium in June, but on the condition that no public funds were spent related to it. (Photo: Erik Silk)

View Related Video: Santa Clara police promise to stop using public funds for 49ers security

After weeks of controversy, Santa Clara officials have stopped providing free police escorts to the San Francisco 49ers and are billing the team for those that occurred in the past.

Since 2007, the Police Department has escorted team vehicles from the 49ers’ training facility in Santa Clara to the airport and to Bay Area preseason games. Deborah Bress, a citizen who opposes plans to build the team a stadium in the city, complained about the arrangement in late August, leading to media coverage and complaints from taxpayers.

“Whether a stadium was actually built or not, police escorts would be an ongoing issue, so with that in mind, we’ve set our administrative policy,” City Manager Jennifer Sparacino said at a Nov. 16 City Council meeting. “We will charge the 49ers for any police escorts in the future, and for the ones that we have done. We have sent them a bill.”

In June, 60 percent of Santa Clara voters approved Measure J, authorizing the stadium project. One of the main promises made by stadium proponents was that there would be no cost to the city’s general fund. The police escorts seemed to be in conflict with this promise, given that on-duty officers were used (they are paid with public money).

Police Chief Steve Lodge has stated that the escorts were unrelated to Measure J. City Council member Jamie McLeod, who expressed concerns when the escorts were brought to her attention, said the city would still provide security for the 49ers, but it would be done in a much more structured way.

“It would not be normal officers just taken away from the street; it would be officers brought in for the overtime,” McLeod said. “They ’ll need to be paid at the rate of time and a half, which is our overtime rate. The team will be billed right away, and they will have to pay on an ongoing basis.”

McLeod praised the city manager for coming up with “a very workable policy now. “

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