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The city’s Department of Investigation is probing travel and overtime costs racked up by NYPD detectives deployed as bodyguards during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s short-lived campaign, according to a law enforcement source.
The DOI probe was first reported by the Daily News.
“It’s very difficult to unpack the costs of protections specifically related the mayor’s trips,” said Doug Turetsky, a spokesperson for the city’s Independent Budget Office.
During de Blasio’s four-month campaign, during which he never registered more than 1% support in national polls, the mayor often traveled with his wife, Chirlane McCray, who also got her own security detail.
Criss-Crossing the Country
At least 10 cops — including two supervisors — regularly flew with the couple to places like Jim Clyburn’s World Famous Fish Fry in Columbia, S.C., and small towns in Iowa. The security stayed at the same hotels as the mayor and his wife, and drove the rental cars that transported the duo to events.
One detective is typically assigned to stand outside the mayor’s hotel room overnight, according to a former detective assigned to the mayor’s security detail during Mike Bloomberg’s tenure. There’s also an advance team that checks out each site for possible security issues before the mayor arrives.
On each trip, at least two members of the team are on overtime due to scheduling issues, the former detective said.
De Blasio’s campaign covered the travel costs for the mayor, his wife and campaign staff. But taxpayers were on the hook for the expenses tied to the security detail. That includes airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and gasoline.
NYPD Mum on Costs
The trips are all typically arranged by an officer within the department’s Executive Protection Unit, sources said. Detectives are almost always told what flights to take, hotels to stay, and cars to rent.
NYPD officials have refused to publicly disclose the total cost of those trips, citing “security concerns.” Police officials said they try to use federal government travel spending guidelines for airfare, hotel stays and meals per day.
By contrast, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Ind., does not use police from his city for protection on the presidential campaign trail.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign ran from May 16 to Sept. 20. During that 128-day period, he spent 51 days on the road.
De Blasio’s campaign stops included visits to nine states, Washington and Puerto Rico. He sometimes made appearances at multiple cities in one weekend.
Some of the travel was coordinated last minute — which tends to push up costs.
When a blackout hit midtown Manhattan on the weekend of July 13, the mayor was in Waterloo, Iowa. His security detail drove him to Chicago in the middle of the night so he could take a flight back to New York the next morning.
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