The New York City Department of Investigation found that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYPD security was misused to drive his children, guests and mayoral staff, as well as to check on his privately owned rental properties, a report released Thursday says.
The 47-page report capped a probe that began in August 2019. It also stated that de Blasio had not yet reimbursed the city for more than $319,000 spent for his police security detail during his failed 2020 presidential campaign trips, and that an NYPD inspector in charge of the detail "actively obstructed and sought to thwart" the DOI investigation, findings which have been referred to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
The report identified the NYPD official in charge of the security detail during the relevant period as Insp. Howard Redmond.
DOI commissioner Margaret Garnett said in a prepared statement that while protection of the mayor and his family were important functions, there were no formalized written procedures or policies at the NYPD for running the security detail, something that appears to be at the root of the misuse of the police detail.
"It is no way to run a railroad," Garnett said during a news conference Thursday announcing the findings, likening the detail being used as a concierge service for the de Blasio family.
"If in fact the mayor’s children by virtue of his position as mayor have legitimate security needs, they deserve better protection than they are getting. Then, if they don’t have that need, then there is an enormous waste of public resources," Garnett said.
The issuance of the report comes just three months before de Blasio’s second term comes to an and at a time when he has suggested he wants to run for governor next year. Against such a backdrop, both de Blasio and the NYPD pushed back at the DOI finding, with deputy commissioner John Miller, who is charge of intelligence and counter terrorism, indicating that neither he nor top department officials overseeing security were consulted.
At de Blasio’s daily media briefing, Miller said that in the eight years of the mayor’s tenure there had been 308 threats against him, including 33 referencing his family, 11 against first lady Chirlane McCray and 14 against their children, Dante and Chia
"Our policy, regarding the mayor’s family, particularly his children, has been to provide for them whatever security they will accept," Miller said. "So, if that means transporting them by car to a job, or to a public event, or to school, we will do that."
De Blasio’s adult children have at various points asked to be removed from protection by the security detail, the report said. But the report explained that in terms of Chiara’s move in 2018 from Brooklyn to Gracie Mansion that NYPD resources were inappropriately used to transport some of her belongings and that one detail member physically moved some of her furniture.
The DOI also found that the security detail drove Dante de Blasio numerous times to and from Yale University without his father or mother present. The detail also drove Dante around without his parents in the vehicle, the report noted.
"Our watch word has been always to provide as much security as they will accept, even if that is not as much as we would like. I don't think any of that context was contained within the DOI report," said Miller. "And I wished during that investigation that they had sought to gain that information in context, either from me or from Chief Tom Galati, the chief of the Intelligence Bureau."
De Blasio said he didn’t trust the report’s allegation that Redmond tried to obstruct the investigation by deleting text messages and turning in his phone for an upgrade, which wiped information the DOI requested.
"I am not taking anything at face value," de Blasio said.
Late Thursday, City Hall released a July 2021 letter appealing a Conflict of Interest Board finding that the de Blasio presidential campaign had to cover certain costs of the security detail. Kapil Longani, counsel to de Blasio, said such a position was "untenable."
"If the NYPD determines that security is necessary for an out of state trip that the mayor takes, regardless of the purpose and length of that trip, it is in the City’s interest that such security be provided," Longani argued.
With Matthew Chayes