Think back on last month’s New Hampshire Presidential Primary, and security details probably don’t come to mind.
Maybe that’s because during the nearly nine months candidates campaigned in the Granite State, no major incidents arose. But providing this security came at a price to taxpayers -- more than a quarter million dollars, in fact.
That's what it cost the state to provide police security to five of the presidential candidates -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson and Gov. Chris Christie -- as well as former president Bill Clinton, who campaigned in New Hampshire on his wife's behalf several times.
The final tally -- $266,559 -- includes overtime costs, regular pay, and comp time, as well as the relevant retirement and health benefits for the state troopers who provided this coverage. Overall, New Hampshire state troopers spent a total of 4,885 hours on these details, a third of which was overtime. But those amounts only cover the final five months of the New Hampshire campaign, so the real number is certainly larger. In addition, that amount doesn't include costs to cities and towns, whose police officers had to provide security, guide traffic or perform other duties when candidates came to town.
When it comes to who gets a state police security detail, that falls on the candidate themselves. Candidates’ staffs can request coverage, and New Hampshire has typically responded, free of charge. This policy has been in place for decades, but the state doesn't allocate money to specifically pay for that extra coverage. Rather, the New Hampshire Department of Safety, which includes the state police, has to budget around it.
Colonel Robert Quinn of the State Police says counting how many troopers were on duty for each candidate is classified due to security reasons. I can attest, though that at one Hillary Clinton event at my office two months ago, I saw at least six local and state police cruisers waiting to escort her to the next stop.
But despite the difficulty of arranging trooper schedules around candidate visits, Quinn said he's just glad that this year's primary was a safe one.
“Our biggest fear is to look back and have to talk to reporters about a tragedy that took place, so I am pleased that we are looking at how much man hours went into it, how much it cost and not talking about some horrible tragedy,” Quinn said.
And although the primary has come and gone, security details have not. State police officials expect to see more requests come in this fall, when the presidential election focuses its attention back on New Hampshire.