Highway Patrol used more than $11K worth of smoke canisters during protests

Digital Investigations

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Highway Patrol used more than $11,000 worth of smoke canisters during two weeks of protests in Wake County, a CBS17.com investigation found.

CBS17.com filed public records requests with five law enforcement agencies asking for the costs associated with overtime for staff as well as an accounting of all less-lethal weapons used during the George Floyd protests in Raleigh in late May and early June.

Two of those agencies — the Highway Patrol and the State Bureau of Investigation — have responded.

During the Wake County protests from May 30-June 12, Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Michael Baker told CBS17.com troopers used 267 non-irritant smoke canisters that cost $42.34 apiece. 

That comes out to a total of $11,304.78, and an average of more than 19 canisters per day during that 14-day period.

Baker said in an email fulfilling the records request that the Highway Patrol classified all of those protests as one event over several consecutive days and said the department stopped tracking the Raleigh protests after June 12.

He declined an interview request from CBS17.com. The North Carolina Troopers Association did not respond to a request for an interview.

Baker also said troopers used 49 canisters of OC — oleoresin capsicum, also known as pepper spray — that cost $17.50 each, for a total of $857.50. And the two flash bangs that were deployed by troopers cost $46.39 apiece.

Baker also said there was no cost of overtime to the Highway Patrol, which had 4,577 hours worked by troopers at a total cost of $149,802.77.

SBI spokeswoman Anjanette Grube told CBS17.com that her agency had 10 employees working, and the total overtime cost was $1,024.50.

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