Jan 29, 2015

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.


  1. While the Reverend Jackson may be a national figure, how is he substantially different than any other person who might visit a city or speak at a function? I mean, why does he rank an escort at all?

    Was there no one in the Police Department that was in charge of this escort service to decide on how many should be a part of the detail or who should be a part of it?

    I’m guessing that this was all on overtime so it did not leave our city streets without its normal compliment of police officers? Have we given our officers the authority to just show up and draw overtime pay–all while we still face a multi-million dollar budget deficit? Have we forgotten just how large a percentage of this deficit is due to payroll and in particular to overtime?

    Wouldn’t the sponsors of such an event normally be asked to reimburse the City for the City costs associated with the event?

    I appreciate what our Police Department provides us but we need to keep a closer eye on how the people’s money is spent.

    Don Gosney | Jan 29th, 2015
  2. When I first got the notification of this report at 10:28 it was only $1500 but after I posted my comment it’s now grown to $2,000. Just how high will this number grow? And please don’t tell me the increase was as a direct result of my comment. 🙂

    Don Gosney | Jan 29th, 2015
  3. Don, I’m going to include a note of clarification. The number reported by the Chronicle was $1,500, but there was a miscommunication. Adding eight more officers to the initially requested 3, according to Gagan, cost $1,500 and drove the total cost to about $2,000.

    Mike Aldax | Jan 29th, 2015
  4. I agree with Don. Maybe their union could throw in some of the $500,000 they get from the COR each year to cover this abuse.

    Mike | Jan 29th, 2015
  5. What a joke! Another example of corruption paid for by the residents of Richmond.

    Charles Smith | Jan 29th, 2015

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.