Chicago police reduce publicly funded security for ex-mayor

December 21, 2019 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police have reduced taxpayer-funded security for a former city mayor but eliminated detail for current city officials.

The Chicago Police Department conducted threat assessments for former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Clerk Anna Valencia and Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Although the police reviewed security for Emanuel, the department did not perform a threat assessment on the risk posed to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who continues to have security detail more than eight years after he left office, officials said. The agency indicated that Emanuel was never at risk of losing his detail.

Anthony Guglielmi, police spokesman, said this practice has been in place since at least 2010, though former Mayor David Orr does not have one nor did former Mayor Jane Byrne before her death in 2014.

“The security (assessment) on Mayor Emanuel was not done to justify whether he would get a detail, that’s automatic,” Guglielmi said. “It was done to determine whether and how long we needed to keep a command post at the house.”

Last month, the newspaper first reported that Daley and Emanuel have continued receiving taxpayer-funded police details. The Tribune surveyed the other nine largest American cities about their security practices for elected officials and found Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose all provide security for their current mayors but not their predecessors. New York City officials declined a request for comment.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has defended the practice, saying she thinks it’s appropriate and necessary, even for Daley. But opponents have criticized it. It’s also expensive, with each officer costing upward of $100,000 without including overtime or a car.

In an interview, Orr said security details for former mayors are an example of “misplaced priorities” and said he doesn’t understand why the city would do threat assessments on other politicians receiving a detail but not Daley.

“Obviously no one should get anything unless there’s a threat assessment that’s done honestly,” said Orr, who only briefly served as mayor after Harold Washington died.

The department said it canceled the security details for Valencia and Conyears-Ervin because the elected officials aren’t at enough risk, records released by the city in response to an open records request show.

Conyears-Ervin has criticized the police. Conyears-Ervin told the paper that it has been a long-standing tradition for the city treasurer to receive a security detail and spoke about feeling threatened because she took office after a contested election and manages the city’s massive financial investment portfolio.

Valencia’s chief legal counsel, Ennedy Rivera, in August also wrote Lightfoot chief of staff Maurice Classen asking that the decision be reconsidered, citing threats to the clerk. Classen responded that two separate threat assessments found no “ongoing, specific, or credible threat” to Valencia.