NEW YORK — New York City’s Department of Investigation found Mayor Bill de Blasio misused his security detail and the NYPD official who runs the detail allegedly tried to obstruct the investigation, according to a nearly 50-page report released Thursday.
Through the report, it was concluded there were several instances where the mayor’s security detail was misused for political purposes during his presidential campaign as well as personal purposes for his children.
The investigation into several allegations surrounding de Blasio’s security detail began in August 2019, including whether the mayor had ordered members of his security to move his daughter from her Brooklyn apartment to Gracie Mansion, as well as if he ordered security to drive his son to Yale University and several destinations across the city.
Additional allegations investigated included whether or not de Blasio used his security to transport mayoral staffers or members of his presidential campaign without him in the vehicle, and if the city had borne the travel costs for the mayor’s security detail during his presidential campaign.
Among the findings, DOI found there were some instances the mayor’s security detail was properly used during Chiara de Blasio’s move to Gracie Mansion. However, other NYPD resources were inappropriately used, including an NYPD sprinter van that transported some of Chiara’s belongings from her apartment to Gracie Mansion.
The report noted a member of the NYPD team was once used to move a FUTON, when de Blasio’s daughter moved from Brooklyn to Gracie Mansion.
NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorrism John Miller offered another fact about the mansion: a guy who threatened de Blasio there in 2019.
“Three weeks later, that same individual killed the acting boss of the Gambino crime family outside his home on Staten Island,” Miller said.
Investigators identified multiple instances when detectives from the Mayor’s security detail drove Dante de Blasio to or from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, without the Mayor or First Lady present in the vehicle and found that it was common practice for the security detail to drive Dante de Blasio to locations around New York City without his parents present, typically at the direction of the security detail’s superior officers.
“It’s not security,” DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said. “It’s essentially a concierge service –primarily for Dante.”
Miller said police security for the Mayor’s family is always wise.
The DOI also determined New York City expended $319,794 for the members of de Blasio’s security detail to travel on his presidential campaign trips and that the mayor “has not reimbursed the city for these expenses, either personally or through his campaign.”
Additionally, it was found that Executive Protection Unit members occasionally transported the mayor’s campaign staffers while driving him. Both situations reflect the use of NYPD resources for political purposes, according to the findings.
The investigation also determined “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.”
DOI said City Hall also provided the cops with cell phones that used encrypted text messages– and then deleted communications. It said Inspector Howard Redmond, head of the security teams, didn’t cooperate.
Commissioner Garnett said Inspector Redmond even tried to destroy his NYPD phone.
De Blasio said Redmond was a devoted public servant, with nearly 30 years in the NYPD
The mayor’s security detail is comprised of members of the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau, whose purpose is to provide personal security to those the force has determined such protection is necessary, whether by virtue of their official position or due to a particular threat.
The DOI made 13 recommendations for the NYPD, Mayor’s Office, the Conflicts of Interest Board and the Department of Records and Information Services:
To the NYPD:
- The NYPD must collect and maintain records regarding travel expenses incurred by the mayor’s security detail during his campaign
- Consult with experts on official protection outside of the NYPD to develop and adopt improved practices for standing or long-term security details.
- Create a policy concerning out-of-state travel records at the NYPD. Those records should specify the purpose of travel, especially trips that require reimbursements to the city.
To the Office of the Mayor:
- Electronic devices, including cellphones and City Hall email addresses should not be assigned by City Hall to members of the mayor’s security detail
- Trainings on document retention obligations should be delivered to all those who regularly use electronic devices and emails issued by the mayor’s office, whether or not they are formally employed by the mayor.
- Mayor’s office should develop and provide training regarding use and retention of text messages to any city employee to whom it issues City Hall cellphones.
To the COIB:
- Publicly release any advice issued to elected officials regarding the use of city resources in connection with political activities.
- If advice, guidance provides for the reimbursement of expenses to the city, it should specify (at a minimum) a timeline for such reimbursements to the city and the parties responsible.
- DORIS should issue an updated retention schedule to include rules governing texts, messaging apps and any communications not conducted through official government accounts
A spokesperson for de Blasio responded that intelligence and security experts should decide how to keep the mayor and his family safe, “not civilian investigators.”
“Intelligence and security experts should decide how to keep the mayor and his family safe, not civilian investigators. 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 naïve view of the complex security challenges facing elected officials today,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.