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Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says FEMA will cover overtime to patrol reopened beaches

Posted at 10:28 PM, May 11, 2020

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- This was the first full weekend that many Tampa Bay area beaches were back open, with law enforcement patrolling to make sure everyone maintained social distancing.

The I-Team looked into whether those extra patrols came at an extra cost to taxpayers, contacting law enforcement agencies from Clearwater and Pinellas County to Sarasota and Manatee counties about overtime costs.

The Clearwater Police Department said it adjusted shifts and its officers worked less than 10 hours of overtime.

The Tampa Police Department, St. Petersburg Police Department, Sarasota Police Department, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported no overtime expenses.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office handled the lion’s share of patrolling, with around 300 deputies working the beach.

PCSO said it will not know the full cost of the overtime for another couple weeks.

"We have minimized overtime by adjusting schedules and using on-duty personnel from other assignments as much as possible. For example, school resource deputies and deputies normally assign to the courthouses are working post on the beaches. Any overtime expenses incurred are being reimbursed by FEMA," said Cpl. Chuck Skipper.

The I-Team plans to check back in as the weeks go on to provide any updates on changes to the cost of keeping beach-goers safe.