Rahm reduces Daley bodyguards
By Fran Spielman Sun-Times Media September 12, 2011 7:54PM
Mayor Daley | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: November 9, 2011 4:58PM
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is cutting in half, from six to three, the number of Chicago police assigned as bodyguards for former Mayor Richard Daley in retirement.
Starting Thursday, Daley and his wife, Maggie, will be protected by three uniformed officers while the other three return to street duty, sources said Monday.
The new detail will continue to have access to two city vehicles but only when necessary. When the vehicles are not needed, they will be returned to the police department’s motor pool.
Weeks before Daley left office, he requested around-the-clock protection by at least five police bodyguards and at least two vehicles at his disposal. After a U.S. Secret Service evaluation of Daley’s security needs, Emanuel authorized a six-officer detail and left it untouched, while cutting that for Ald. Edward Burke (14th), chairman of the city council’s finance committee, from four active police officers to two retired ones.
The Burke and Daley bodyguards became a sore point with Chicago taxpayers, who strongly suggested ending both details in posts to a city budget website set up by Emanuel.
It also became a flash point for the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, after a two-year hiring slowdown that has left the Chicago Police Department about 2,300 officers a day short of authorized strength.
On Monday, FOP president Mike Shields criticized Emanuel for not going far enough with Daley’s bodyguards.
“Will the remaining detail still be making trips to the Daley summer home in Michigan?” Shields asked. “At some point, Chicago needs to stop treating politicians like royalty. Mayor Daley is a very wealthy man who can afford his own valet service. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for it.
“Whether it’s 10 or six or three (Daley bodyguards), it’s too many. CPD is down 2,000 officers. We can use every available officer out in the field.”
Better Government Association president and chief executive Andy Shaw called Emanuel’s move a “good start” to “save taxpayers money and put more cops on the street.”
“Some people won’t be satisfied until the ex-mayor has no bodyguards. Others will wonder why the ex-mayor isn’t paying for his own security. They’ll point out that he may still be the only ex-mayor in America with police protection,” Shaw said. “We don’t have enough information to know whether there’s a legitimate security need.”
Daley has angrily defended his request for 24-hour bodyguard protection — a courtesy that former Mayor Jane Byrne never received and considers unnecessary.
“There’s been threats all through my career. … The safety of my family comes first,” Daley said, days before leaving office. “I’ve been mayor for 22 years, and my wife has made a commitment (to the city). ... It’s appropriate for every former mayor.”
Figures released by the Emanuel administration this summer show that Burke’s detail cost Chicago taxpayers nearly $600,000 in 2009, with the highest-paid officer getting more than $150,000 that year.