Questions rise as Kelly and Bloomberg to take security protection out of office
Stephon Johnson | 11/14/2013, 4:12 p.m.
While Mayor Michael Bloomberg and possibly Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are heading out of office, residents might still have to pay once they’re gone.
According to a recent report by DNAInfo.com, Bloomberg and the current police commissioner are asking the city to fund for them a security detail that will protect them and their families.
Over two weeks ago, Kelly reportedly told members of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division at police headquarters in lower Manhattan that he wanted to take on six detectives to protect him and his family because he will remain “a high profile target” after he leaves office. Each detective will make around $120,000 and remain on the city’s payroll.
It’s Kelly tacit admission that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will not bring him back as police commissioner once de Blasio takes the oath at City Hall in January.
Kelly was granted police protection when he left the police commissioner’s office the first time in 1994. He cites threats to his life due to the NYPD’s counterterrorism operations as the reason why he needs protection.
As a source told DNAInfo, “They’ve hit the NYPD lottery.” De Blasio still has to approve Kelly’s request because it involves NYPD resources.
Noel Leader, a retired police sergeant and co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, discussed with the AmNews the abnormality of a police commissioner requesting protection once he leaves his position.
“Perhaps for a mayor, but not for a police commissioner. I have never heard that before,” said Leader to the AmNews. “He should be able to articulate that there’s something he knows that the rest of us don’t know. I think he should have to justify before the citizens or their representatives why taxpayers should foot the bill for his security, how large that detail should be and how long it should last.”
As for Bloomberg, the outgoing mayor will take almost his entire contingent of police protection (15 officers, most of them detectives) with him out of office. All of the officers will immediately retire, collect their pensions (because most of them have at least 20 years of service) and work for the mayor, who’ll pay them $150,000 annually.
In 2000, former Police Commissioner Howard Safir, citing threats against his life, took on a contingent of 12 officers to protect him around the clock. His move drew the criticism of government and NYPD watchdog groups. In less than a year, he dropped the contingent to seven detectives and a sergeant.
The most recent police commissioner to not take on a publicly-funded security detail after leaving office was Bernard Kerik, who eventually had his protection paid for through Giuliani Partners, a management consulting and security business founded by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Nevertheless, Leader wants to know specifically why Kelly’s alleged threats on his life justify detail when others, including him, have had threats on their life as well.
“A threat alone is not enough,” said Leader to the AmNews. “Because anybody could call and say, ‘I need protection because someone’s threatening me.’ I’ve had individuals call my house. I’ve had notes left on my car while it was parked outside of the precinct. Threats? As a police commissioner, that comes with the job.
“There has to be some plan or plot to assassinate him or kidnap him,” continued Leader. “I think he should have to lay out the legitimacy of these threats and why the city should pay for his security.”