In Buffalo and Amherst, police had to cover about half the total cost for traffic control and security at special events in 2017. The organizers for various walks, runs or bike events were only asked to reimburse police in certain situations and taxpayers were left with the rest of the bill.
"It's a very large draw of resources," Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said. "A lot of times the only way to accomplish this is on overtime and that is a large expense to the city."
In 2017, security and traffic support from Buffalo Police cost around $125,000 for different events. Organizers reimbursed the city $49,000.
The city's special events committee, which is made up of representatives from different levels of government including Buffalo Police, Buffalo Fire and public works, decides on a case by case basis which groups should be responsible for paying police back after events.
Rinaldo said that process is being looked at going forward. He expects "more scrutiny" will be placed on these events when deciding who pays for what.
In Amherst, the police department doesn't get reimbursed if the event benefits the town or Village of Williamsville. It also doesn't get reimbursed for security costs if the events were organized by or benefits the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, the Memorial Day parade, schools and fire companies.
"The whole thing is about a fairness approach for both the taxpayer and the nonprofits who are hosting these events in Amherst," Shawn Lavin, a town board member, said.
Following a review from the town's Government Studies Committee, Lavin said there are plans to introduce a resolution that would change the policy regarding special events.
That resolution would waive police costs for any events if those costs are less than $1,000. If police costs rise above $1,000, the event organizer, regardless of affiliation, would be expected to help pay.
Both municipalities want to be sure any action doesn't discourage these events