$2,000 Richmond police escort for Rev. Jesse Jackson ‘excessive’

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt declared Sunday "Jesse Jackson Day" in honor of the reverend's visit. (Photo courtesy of the mayor)

The roughly $2,000 it cost for a police escort for the Rev. Jesse Jackson from San Francisco to a Richmond church last weekend was “excessive,” Richmond police Capt. Mark Gagan told San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phil Matier and Andrew Ross on Tuesday.

Gagan confirmed the Chronicle’s report with the Richmond Standard on Thursday, but said the total cost for police escort services was about $2,000 rather than the $1,500 the newspaper reported.

“I agree the amount of personnel who went to San Francisco to escort him to the event was excessive;  I wanted it to be three officers, it was 11,” Gagan told us. “The cost of the other 8 officers to make the trip was roughly $1,500.”

The police escort to Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church was something that would normally be done for a head of state, Matier and Ross wrote.

It was supposed to double as a training exercise for Richmond cops in escorting important people, but more officers than anticipated signed up to escort Jackson and none was turned away, Gagan told the newspaper. The police captain said he didn’t hear about the number of officers who took part in the escort until the Chronicle informed him, adding “the responsibility falls on me.”

The large police escort, Matier and Ross wrote, is evidence of the rock-star status the reverend has in Richmond, where he discussed the ongoing challenges facing the African American community.

“The Rev. Jackson is very popular here, and his visit was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm,” Gagan told the columnists.Some of the cops reportedly took selfies with Jackson at the Hyatt Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Gagan also pointed out that the Richmond religious leaders who invited Jackson have been a major part in the police department’s successful crime reduction efforts, so “when they make a request we go out of our way to accommodate them,” he told the columnists.

Alvin Bernstine, the senior pastor at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, is a member of the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), which holds Ceasefire night walks and reaches out to at-risk community members in an effort to help police reduce violence. The movement, according to CCISCO, contributed to a more than 30-percent reduction in injury shootings and homicides in Richmond in 2012.