President Obama Treasure Coast golf visit tallied

MARTIN COUNTY — President Barack Obama's golf outing at the posh Floridian club earlier this month cost some Treasure Coast taxpayers about five times more than his visit during his September campaign.

According to figures from sheriff's offices in St. Lucie and Martin counties, and the Port St. Lucie Police Department, the local law enforcement tab for protecting the president while he golfed at The Floridian cost about $78,205.

That's significantly more than the $15,000 seven local law enforcement agencies from Indian River to Martin counties spent in September to protect him as he whipped through the Treasure Coast during a campaign stop.

"It doesn't matter what party you are. If you are a resident of a county that is visited by a VIP, that requires security detail, and this is the service that we provide," St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said.

Late on Feb. 15, Obama arrived at the golf club that straddles Martin and St. Lucie counties. By the time he left the afternoon of Feb. 18, more than 110 law enforcement officers — deputies from sheriff's agencies in the respective counties and officers from Port St. Lucie — played a role in the visit.

Of the three local law enforcement agencies tasked with security, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office had the most personnel involved.

Eighty two deputies and a civilian vehicle maintenance employee worked at various times at a cost of $58,452.21 in salaries, sheriff's officials said. St. Lucie County deputies handled security issues for 16 golf holes and access gates.

About 30 Martin deputies worked throughout the golf outing, at a salary cost of $17,452.92, with a majority going to overtime pay.

Port St. Lucie police spent $2,300 for a sergeant and six officers, with the bulk of the cost for overtime. Port St. Lucie officers provided traffic control for the presidential motorcade from Florida's Turnpike on Becker Road to Gilson Road.

Port St. Lucie Police spokesman Master Sgt. Frank Sabol said security also used the department's bomb sniffing K-9 dog.

"We pay him with treats," Sabol said.

In September, the presidential security detail used seven local law enforcement agencies, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties sheriff's offices, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Stuart Police departments. The presidential campaign bus was a blur when it whipped through Vero Beach to Fort Pierce to grab pizza and to get picked-up in an the famous bear hug by philanthropist Scott Van Duzer before heading to campaign offices in Port St. Lucie.

Though President Obama went through more cities in September, he didn't stay long and used 161 local law enforcement officers compared to 110 officers earlier this month.

Local law enforcement agencies said there is no recourse for them to seek reimbursement.

"We'll adjust our spending as necessary," Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said last week. "There may be a purchase or two we have to do without."

An explanation for the higher price tag is the golf vacation lasted longer and required more personnel for round-the-clock security.

"The president requires an unusual level of security," Snyder said. "It does take a lot more planning. We have to reallocate manpower to complete the task."

Snyder said law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to protect the president.

"We don't resent doing this," Snyder said. "This is part of what we do. He's the president of the United States of America. It was our obligation to provide the security necessary for the president of the United States."

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