Taxpayers pay to protect Daley after he leaves office

May 5, 2011 2:19:09 PM PDT
Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is defending his request to continue using Chicago police officers as bodyguards after he leaves office.

A law enforcement source says the mayor's request for continued security is part of the process in place before any police bodyguards or escorts are provided. In other words, you have to ask before it is given. The Chicago Police Department will make the decision on what, if any, level of protection is necessary for Daley after he leaves public office.

As the mayor continued his farewell tour outside a 50th Ward restaurant on Thursday, his ever-present, police department-supplied security stood watch. Protecting Chicago's mayor is a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year responsibility. The detail has guarded Richard M. Daley for the past 22 years, at times against active threats.

"There's been threats all through my career, sure, there have been. The safety of my family comes first," Mayor Daley said.

The police department also stations an officer in a marked or unmarked police car outside the mayor's home 24 hours a day. The same home protection and number of bodyguards will be provided Rahm Emanuel after he is inaugurated on May 16.

Daley confirmed Thursday that he will have some level of taxpayer-supplied security after he becomes a private citizen that same day.

"I've been mayor for 22 years...Former mayors received security appropriately, and the police department will handle that, not me," said Mayor Daley.

Due to the city's budget crisis, the police department is 2,300 officers below its authorized manpower. More police vehicles in the city are occupied by one officer as opposed to the safer two cops per vehicle.

On the plan to continue Daley's protection, Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said, "With the manpower situation in the police department, it just takes more people off the street."

The last mayor to receive protection after leaving office was the late Eugene Sawyer, who was mayor for two years. He was provided one bodyguard.

Daley, the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history, is expected to have a larger detail assigned to him.

A police spokeswoman also reminded reporters Thursday the department does not disclose how many officers are assigned to the Daley detail now or how many might be assigned after he leaves office. To tell us that, she said, would defeat the purpose of the security.

Mayor-elect Emanuel is likely to have the final say on this, how many cops and for how long.

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