Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed Tuesday he needed taxpayers to foot the bill for the NYPD to accompany “high-profile” figures such as himself on the 2019 presidential primary trail — despite his non-entity status in the race.
Hizzoner insisted during a morning press briefing that since the political environment has become more “divided” and “violent” in recent years, any New York City mayor-turned-presidential hopeful needs to be protected by publicly funded NYPD cops even when outside the five boroughs.
That claim apparently includes doomed candidates such as himself who drew minuscule crowds on the Democratic primary trail.
“The work was going to happen any way you slice it, and the [NYPD mayoral] detail did what they’ve done with every mayor down through the ages,” de Blasio said.
“The whole notion of [a] security detail is to protect the mayor, protect their family. That has been true for generations in this city,” he said.
“The high-profile nature of this role has only intensified, and unfortunately, the political backdrop, the reality in our society has gotten more divided, sometimes more violent.
“There’s a reason why the NYPD provides that protection across the board. And if someone is out of the city or involved in political work, they still do, they always have.”
By comparison, Pete Buttigieg, the country’s current transportation secretary and former South Bend, Ind., mayor who ran for president at the same time as de Blasio — even winning the Iowa caucus — paid for his own security while campaigning.
De Blasio’s claims come after a city Department of Investigation probe found that de Blasio’s security team was used for “political purposes” during his failed presidential campaign.
The NYPD spent at least $319,794 to accompany the Boston Red Sox-loving mayor on his quixotic presidential bid, which included funds that went toward a previously reported trip to a Sox game in California. Investigators also discovered that the police detail “occasionally” transported presidential campaign staffers in the same vehicle as de Blasio when driving him around, which is a no-no, the report said.
During a March campaign stop in New Hampshire before de Blasio officially announced his run, just 20 people showed up to hear him hold a roundtable on mental health. That number included the 14 people on the panel, leaving just six in the audience.
In September 2019, the mayor pulled the plug on his unsuccessful bid to be commander-in-chief, after he failed to gain more than 1 percent support in national polls.
Meanwhile, de Blasio said Tuesday that police Inspector Howard Redmond — the head of the NYPD team tasked with protecting him — has not been disciplined, despite the damning DOI findings that Redmond attempted to stymie investigators during the investigative process. The finding has been referred to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
“The NYPD has looked at information provided,” de Blasio said, referring to Redmond’s actions. “They don’t see a reason for further charges.
“We have not heard from the Manhattan DA, and so at this point, it’s simply an allegation. [Redmond] continues to do his work on behalf of the people. He’s spent almost 30 years in the service of people, he will continue.”
NYPD spokeswoman Detective Sophia Mason confirmed Tuesday that Redmond had not been disciplined by the Police Department.
“There is no change in duty status,” she said.
The DOI’s head announced the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is mulling criminal charges against Redmond after the agency’s investigation found the NYPD inspector “actively obstructed and sought to thwart” the agency’s probe.
Redmond, who oversees the police department’s Executive Protection Unit, could be subject to obstruction-of-justice charges, said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
The report on de Blasio’s security detail said Redmond stonewalled DOI, including by refusing to turn over his phone for months until he was ordered to do so by his supervisor.
“DOI has concluded that the NYPD inspector in charge of the First Family’s security detail actively obstructed and sought to thwart this investigation, frustrating DOI’s efforts to learn the full facts regarding these allegations,” reads a portion of the 49-page report.
Redmond also allegedly attempted to scrub evidence by destroying his phone, investigators said.
“One former NYPD detective told DOI that Inspector Redmond instructed EPU members assigned to the Mayor and his family to communicate with the City Hall resources to impede the NYPD from getting access to EPU communications when ‘dumping’ NYPD phones and emails during investigations,” reads the report.
In addition, the investigation documented that the mayor’s security team members have in recent years chauffeured son Dante de Blasio around the five boroughs for personal needs.
“In practice, what is happening is that, you know, it’s not security; it’s essentially a concierge service, primarily for Dante,” Garnett said.
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