Mayor Bill de Blasio treated NYPD security detail like 'concierge service,' DOI report finds

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio treated his NYPD-provided security detail like a "concierge service" that drove around his son, staff members and guests even when he was not in the car and helped his daughter move out of her apartment, the city's Department of Investigation said Thursday.

The 49-page report was issued by Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett.

"I don't know that I would say Uber drivers, but I think it's a fair statement that there was a culture that treated the detail as if they were staffers in City Hall or the Mayor's Office," she said.

The investigative report also faulted the mayor for failing to reimburse the more than $300,000 his security detail spent on travel outside of New York City during de Blasio's unsuccessful 2019 run for president.
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"Protecting the mayor and his family is a serious and significant job that should be guided by best practices, formalized procedures, and an understanding that security details are not personal assistants in a dignitary's daily life but provide essential protection," Garnett said.

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Additionally, the report said that the NYPD inspector in charge of the Executive Protection Unit, Howard Redmond, "sought to obstruct" the investigation by refusing to turn over a City Hall-issued phone, trying to destroy his NYPD-issued phone, and demonstrating a "lack of candor" during an interview.

Redmond was referred to the Manhattan District Attorney's office for possible prosecution.

"We are reviewing the referral," a spokesman for Manhattan DA Cy Vance said.

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The mayor responded to the DOI report during his daily news conference Thursday, blasting it as inaccurate due to what he called a key omission.

"The ultimate decisions on how to align security, on how to protect those chosen by the people to lead, need to be made by the NYPD," de Blasio said. "Anyone who wants to understand those choices or what the priorities are, or what works, or what's been learned over the years of fighting terrorism, and now the internal violence we are seeing in this country, should turn to the NYPD. Very strangely, the DOI did not do that. They did not turn to the security experts, even though I made abundantly clear who I turn to for guidance. DOI chose not to."

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De Blasio spent more than an hour defending his use of the mayoral security detail and claimed he was simply following advice of the NYPD's Intelligence Division, headed up by Deputy Commissioner John Miller.

Miller revealed that the mayor has been the target of hundreds of threats in recent years, including nearly three dozen against his wife and children.

"Three hundred and eight separate threats, 33 of those have specifically referenced his family within the threat," Miller said. "Eleven of those have been against against the first lady of New York City, and 14 of those have been against the mayor's children."

The city listed a lengthy defense, including:

- NYPD has the experience and expertise to determine who should have detail and the appropriate level of detail, not the DOI

- DOI did not ask the experts at NYPD, who assess the level of appropriate detail, about their determination

- If they had, they would know that NYPD has always said and continues to say:
o Children and the spouse of any Mayor are designated protectees
o Children are entitled to as much security and protection as they would accept

- The Mayor was given this guidance by the NYPD and told exactly how to proceed

- He did not order members of his security detail to do anything for his children
o They offered his family the security protection that was advised by the NYPD

- NYPD determined that immediate family is always entitled to detail therefore all uses are proper

- DOI ignores the very real threat assessment and concern against the Mayor and Mayor's family
o The Mayor and his family receive numerous threats regularly
o The entire family has served as public figures in the City
o Their addresses are public, the media regularly reports on their whereabouts
o Ed Mullins, under criminal investigation, tweeted out the Mayor's daughter's personal information last June
o The Mayor's son has, indisputably, been in the public eye since at least the beginning of the Mayor's first campaign, eight years ago
o The January 6 insurrection at the Capital underscores real and present danger, especially for elected officials who publicly opposed Trump

- DOI suggests there is wrongdoing with security conducting checks at the Mayor's house. These checks are appropriate, and DOI itself concludes later in the report that these checks may be appropriate

- Detail is provided for the purpose of protection, not for surveillance or to keep and provide records of the protectee

"Intelligence and security experts should decide how to keep the mayor and his family safe, not civilian investigators," the mayor's spokesperson said in a statement. "This unprofessional report purports to do the NYPD's job for them, but with none of the relevant expertise - and without even interviewing the official who heads intelligence for the city. As a result, we are left with an inaccurate report, based on illegitimate assumptions and a nave view of the complex security challenges facing elected officials today."

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