Guest Post: Why Are Taxpayers Paying Police Officers to Escort Football Players?

Somehow the girls' lacrosse team doesn't get a taxpayer-paid police escort when they win a game...

I received this guest post from a lifetime Eastonian and long-time reader of the blog, who requested that I post it anonymously. I’m going to oblige, in that I know just how “passionate” Eastonians can get when they are defending anything to do with glorifying high school football…please take the poll at the end!

You bet my tax dollars that Easton beat Phillipsburg in this year’s Turkey Day game!

Thanksgiving afternoon, a great time to be on your way to, or already with loved ones. Or, perhaps forced to pull over on the side of the road so that high school football players and cheerleaders can celebrate from school bus windows, escorted by 3 police vehicles and officers, while 2 others stop and direct traffic at the intersections. Now, I think it’s great that the students have a interest and love of this sport. I think it’s wonderful that they get to share in this long time tradition.  I also think that it would be very interesting to know how much it costs Easton to have the at least 5 on duty officers parade and direct them around town on a holiday. How is it that Advanced Placement, Art, Music, and Technology  programs have been eliminated, and 70 some teachers fired, all due to financial troubles in recent years and yet there is money for this? I don’t understand why the buses couldn’t drive around for the students to cheer and announce the win without the police. I know a large number of people in this town love this event and participate, but why do they demand everyone pay for it? Your informative, well mannered comments are appreciated in advance.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

The interesting question implied by this guest writer are 1. should we paying officers to escort football players at all, especially when the city is still trying to recover from the 2nd worst recession in our history, and 2. how much more is holiday pay for Easton police officers?

The other question implicit in this incident is one that has been voiced by readers (and myself) many times on this blog: why do the Easton Area School District and Mayor Panto continue to think that it is okay to laud the wins of some athletes over those of others? Boys’ sports over girls’ sports, football & wrestling over track, swimming, lacrosse, etc?


10 Responses

  1. So far the vote in the poll seems to be overwhelmingly NO, but I’m sure that we’ll be hearing from more defenders of football soon…

  2. I voted no on this question, primarily due to the times we live in. I’ve always been a big fan of the game and of the Easton – P-Burg Thanksgiving tradition (I think this year was the 106 meeting). Problem is that we don’t have resources to squander on fluff like this these days.

    There are knockdown, drag-out political fights over seemingly minor albeit important expenditures in the city and school district, but then we can turn around and have little or no discussion about spending on things like football team escorts or more money for a new candle in Center Square.

    If we were rolling in dough it wouldn’t be a big deal. Seems like a lot of this stuff should be left to work itself out through other means than public funding.


  3. That Mayor Panto approves of this spending doesn’t surprise me one bit. Look at all the other wasteful spending he’s OK with and you won’t be surprised either.
    Perhaps he can add a few more meters to pay for the extra police costs for the football team. Why not just start them right at all the entrances to the city. Post big “welcome” signs and list the meter rates and times right under the word Welcome. In fact, we should just include a meter and parking rate sheet right in with all our visitor information. To hell with fiscal responsibility, lets just tax and fee the city out of existence.
    I say get rid of Panto and just promote the City Manager who is really the guy who should be getting all the credit for any financial good news Easton has experienced. Panto takes the credit while the city manager does the work. …but I digress.
    NO extra tax payer funded police escorts for high school celebrations.

    • Ronnie
      your comments are confusing to me f9or several reasons but first a clarification. The city taxpayers aren’t paying for the overtime of poiice officers, the entire school distirct regions pay since we are reimbursed for their pay by the districrt.
      Now for my confiusion.
      1. you may recall that in years past this great tradition was marred by violence. the polce presence in the past few years has helped to avoid this violent behavior — especially surrounding the football players buses and the band buses,.
      2. your comments about the meters should first be based on facts ansd then understand that my recommendations for the increase is to offset the city’s support of the two programs that assist the downtown’s resurgence, namely the Easton Ambassadors and Main Street Initiative. You and several others on this blog in the past have criticized the city support of these programs through taxpayer dollars. This places the supoport clearly on the user.
      3. Lastly, your inpression of the City Administrator (not manager) is clearly your opinion and again not based on fact but rather more poltical banter, i am proud of my staff, one of the best teams in the city’s history. Your ranting smells of politics and nothing else. Stick to the issues and the facts and you may get better results.

      • Ronnie
        Please check the city budgets during the last five years and your comments about spending is again just political bantering. Our record speaks for itself when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

      • Mayor Panto, first of all, thanks for posting, and for the clarification.

        I think the concern of the guest writer is that tax money is being spent on holiday pay for additional police officers at all, so to hear that it is property taxes through the school district that is paying for the additional officers, rather than city taxes, will likely not be a comfort. But you do bring up an important point, which is that if taxpayers are going to get mad about how their tax money is spent, it’s important to know which decision-makers they are mad at. Since police officers are paid by the city, it’s natural to think that city tax money is being spent, but in the context of a school function, important to know that it is something best brought up with the EASD school board at the next school board meeting.

        Secondly–I’m sure there are many readers of this blog who, like myself, don’t know of an incident of violence occurring after the Thanksgiving Day game, so if you are referring to an incident from many years ago, please let readers know what happened and when that was (or anyone else reading this who was around then, can feel free to post the story as well).

        Thanks again for posting.

  4. I see 3 votes for “yes”, but no comments as to why. That makes me assume that even the “yes” voters have no valid points that can back up their vote. That raises another question. If most residents do not feel the police escorts are appropriate (and for good reasons) with no one debating this, then why on earth does Easton do it?

  5. I am guessing that the 5 officers weren’t paid specifically to escort the football team. I am sure they were paid to provide extra coverage to the city due to the infux of people coming into the city for the game.

    I see know problem using taxpayer money to ensure a safer event.

  6. Bob- there were 2 motorcycle officers in front of the school bus line. They had their lights and sirens on, pulling over cars so the buses could pass as they would pull over cars for an emergency. There was another police car ending the line of buses, following them around. There were 2 cops used at 2 intersections allowing the buses to pass and forcing cars to stop, even when the light turned red for the buses. FYI the traffic lights were working fine. There was probably LESS traffic than usual on this road. Myself and one other vehicle was pulled over, and there were only a few cars between the 2 intersections. No game traffic was seen anywhere nearby. The officers time was being on duty and getting paid was clearly utilized for this activity of escorting. This was just what I observed on this one road, so maybe there were even more officers elsewhere? That all said- Bob, what safety concerns do you have for these Easton students after they won the game, and are driving around in school buses, in Easton? Any concern would likely be the same for every school bus, traveling anywhere at anytime. Should Easton raise taxes and have 3 cops escort every school bus every morning and afternoon? You know, for a safer trip?

  7. Thanks Mayor Panto for the first reasonable explanation as to why so many police are put on duty for this preventative protection! A result of a violent attack (that no one seems to know about) from several years ago. That being known, I would like to make you aware of a incident that occurred one Sunday evening about a year ago at my home. Someone smashed a car window of my out of town guest’s car, and stole a laptop worth over $1000. It had the wedding video of a dear friend and expensive editing software on it. The police said nothing at all could be done. I am so thankful to know that the police will now be available to sit and monitor my guests vehicles so this repeat theft never happens again. Before reading your post I was not aware that when one unfortunate incident occurs we are able to afford the pay of 5 city employees to make sure a problem never repeats. This is great news. Hey did you know Dennis L. one time had dirty water dumped on his head on the 600 block of Northampton? A round the clock officer to monitor that crazy lady in that upper story window seems pretty appropriate to me now too. Last I would like to say I am shocked that any violent outcome ever came from our best of the best most respected and honored members of the community, our sports loving prized athletes. If it was Phillipsburg who acted in violence, how can we teach them our successful techniques of turning would be crime committing gang member drug dealers into perfect well behaved athletes? Oh Kerry Meyers I pray you can help!

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