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Extra Police For Protests And Presidential Candidate Visits Cost Local Taxpayers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- These days, any time a presidential candidate comes to town, expect a protest of some sort.

That certainly was the case when city officials called in additional police to keep protesters from disrupting lines of Trump supporters waiting to get into Soldiers & Sailors in Oakland and the Convention Center downtown.

While the candidates pay for the venue and all that goes on inside, protecting the candidates outside and keeping protests safe creates an expense for taxpayers.

"That's paid for 100 percent by the city of Pittsburgh," Mayor Bill Peduto said on Thursday.

"It's one of the things about a democracy and the candidates having the ability to speak to the public. That cost comes directly to the city of Pittsburgh. We don't even get to share it, but I do want to thank the other agencies."

The other agencies, who pay for their own work, include the county police, state police, and, of course, the secret service -- along with University Police if the candidate speaks on campus.

Two weeks ago, it was Bernie Sanders who came to the city. Last week, it was Hillary Clinton.

And this week, it was Donald Trump.

"The campaign is very unpredictable," says Pittsburgh's new public safety director Wendell Hissrich.

"Depending on the polls, that could change overnight, and of course the candidates also change their plans as to where they want to go and who they want to see."

Hissrich adds, "Makes it very hard to prepare."

He also told KDKA political editor Jon Delano that it's also costly to taxpayers.

Delano: "Do you have any dollar figures yet?"

Hissrich: "I do not."

Delano: "But it is expensive?"

Hissrich: "It is very expensive."

The mayor says he wishes for the old days where -- instead of protesters and supporters screaming at each other -- which costs taxpayers money, "We'd go back to a time when debate was about ideas and policies and not so much like a sporting event."

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