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BERKELEY (KCBS) – The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office ran up almost half a million dollars in overtime for last Thursday’s free speech demonstrations in Berkeley, where deputies didn’t end up having to do very much. Now, the county wants the University of California to pick up the tab.

Sources in the sheriff’s office told KCBS that providing backup just in case mayhem broke out during the Ann Coulter event that never was cost almost $500,000, which department Sgt. Ray Kelly confirms is accurate.

“The operation in Berkeley last week probably cost close to half a million dollars in overtime costs, to deploy that many resources out there,” Kelly told KCBS.

Kelly said it was well worth it, since there was no violence that broke out during last Thursday’s demonstrations.

“What price tag do you put on public safety?” Kelly said.

The department is racking up similar costs every time it helps Cal or Berkeley police handle one of these demonstrations, which is why the county is asking the university for reimbursement.

“That money comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets, ultimately. It comes out of our budget, it comes out of county and city budgets, and it gets expensive,” Kelly said.

In a statement, the University of California said the investment in public safety was substantial, but justified. Who will eventually pay for is yet to be determined.

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