Council wants details on Trump security

| 17 Jan 2017 | 09:59

The costs of providing increased NYPD security for President-elect Donald Trump at his Midtown residence are clearly substantial — $37.4 million from Election Day to Inauguration Day, according to recent projections — but city lawmakers say they need more detailed information from the police department to understand what the final tally will be and who will foot the bill.

At a city council hearing Jan. 10 on the economic impact of security for the president-elect, Vincent Grippo, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of management and budget, said that the expenses associated with Trump’s security since Election Day are an unplanned event “not on the order of Hurricane Sandy, but as big as anything else we’ve seen in this city since 9/11.”

The unprecedented prospect of providing NYPD protection to a sitting president living in Midtown Manhattan for a significant portion of his term lies at the heart of the police department’s argument for federal reimbursement. “New York City taxpayers should not ultimately be on the hook for that, considering the significant expense that it will be,” Grippo said.

Since Election Day, the NYPD, along with the Secret Service, has enforced a heightened security zone around Trump Tower, the skyscraper at 56th Street and Fifth Avenue that is owned by Trump and contains his primary residence. Trump is expected to move to Washington after his inauguration, but his wife, Melania, and 10-year-old son, Barron, will reportedly continue to reside in Trump Tower until the current school year ends. The number of days Trump will choose to be in New York as president is unclear, but could severely impact the city’s budget.

At the hearing, NYPD officials projected that Trump’s security will cost the city $500,000 each day he is present at Trump Tower after taking office. Trump Tower will be subject to increased NYPD security levels even when Trump is not present, but the city is not currently seeking federal compensation for those costs, Grippo said.

To the frustration of some council members, Deputy Chief James Kehoe, executive officer of the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Manhattan South, cited security concerns in repeatedly declining to discuss specifics related to the $500,000 figure.

“How does somebody take that number seriously unless we know how you arrive at it?” Councilman Daniel Garodnick asked at one point about the number of officers that would need to be deployed to arrive at the half-million-dollar figure.

“We looked at the number, we have broken down the number, but in this arena I am not able, due to the security risk of the president-elect, to give out that number,” Kehoe said.

Later, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, the chairwoman of the council’s Finance Committee, asked about the security costs the city would incur when Melania and Barron Trump are present at Trump Tower but the president-elect is not. Kehoe again would not address specifics.

“We’re going to get that figure,” Garodnick said after the hearing. “If they were not prepared or willing to offer it during the hearing, they will have to be more forthcoming as we consider their proposed budget.”

Ferreras-Copeland said she was fearful that the NYPD’s budget could be “completely blown out of the water” by overtime costs associated with Trump’s security. “We haven’t been doing too great with our overtime issues, period, before the president-elect,” she said.

In order to provide increased security for the president-elect, Kehoe said that NYPD reassigns officers from precincts around the city, often on overtime deployments. Several council members expressed concern that diverting officers from high-crime precincts would have an adverse impact on crime rates, but Grippo said that the increase in officers assigned to Trump Tower has not resulted in a reduction in officer hours on patrol in other areas.

“The bottom line is, the NYPD ensures that the neighborhoods across the city are not adversely impacted” by having fewer uniformed officers on patrol, Grippo said.

Garodnick was skeptical. “I heard them say it. I don’t know how it’s possible, but we will explore that in the budget process,” he said after the hearing. The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the NYPD’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year in March.

In December, Congress appropriated $7 million to compensate state and local law enforcement agencies for overtime costs related to the president-elect’s security during the period from Election Day to Inauguration Day. The federal funding, which was not allocated specifically to New York City, accounts for just 20 percent of the $35 million the city requested based on an earlier estimate of security costs during the transition period.

“We should not be losing $28 million on this operation,” Garodnick said.