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Review Underway For Public Officials’ Police Security Details

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Burke Security Detail

The security detail for Ald. Edward Burke (14th) (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A full review of security is underway for our top city leaders.

At issue right now – facing a huge budget crunch, can Chicago still afford $3 million a year for politicians’ bodyguards?

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, for decades, Ald. Edward Burke (14th) has come and gone in a city-owned car driven by Chicago Police bodyguards.

When Burke appeared for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in his ward last week, he came and left with the protection of two officers.

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Guarding Burke takes at least four full-time officers off the streets. But the question remains, is it necessary as the city faces a budget crisis and a police shortage.

Burke’s attorney insists he needs the extra security because he has been the target of racially-charged threats.

Mayor Emanuel addressed the question directly last week, when asked about it by CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

“Here’s the deal, Jay,” he said. “I asked in the transition for (former police Supt.) Terry Hillard to do a review based on security, because I wanted this removed from politics. “They’ve looked at my security. They’re going to look at everybody’s security. They’re going to make that judgment, which is what they were supposed to do, based on safety, not politics.”

Four public officials currently get bodyguards at taxpayer expense. They are – Mayor Rahm Emanuel, retired Mayor Richard M. Daley, Burke, city Treasurer Stephanie Neely. Recently-departed Chicago Housing Authority chief Lewis Jordan also had tax-supported bodyguards until he the mayor took them away.

A Freedom of Information Request by CBS 2 showed 31 officers in total make $2.8 million to protect the officials.

But taking away any of the officials’ security details may be easier said than done. Burke went to court to keep his detail when Mayor Harold Washington tried to take it away back in the 1980s, and he says another court order will be required to take it away.

Jordan refused to give his security detail up before Emanuel took them away, and Neely declined to talk to us last week about the taxpayer-paid perk – complimentary cars, driven by officers police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he could really use on the street.

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