Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a security detail of more than 70 Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers to protect herself and her family, home, and office, a new report revealed Monday. The department created a special unit to accommodate Lightfoot’s security needs in 2020, around the same time that the mayor proposed slashing the CPD’s budget by $80 million.
According to city records obtained by Chicago Sun-Times, Unit 544, also referred to as the Government Security Detail, began with a small number of policemen but has grown to 65 officers, five sergeants and a lieutenant.
In addition to dozens of officers from Unit 544, Lightfoot also has a separate group of bodyguards, made up of 20 more officers.
The CPD sent an internal memo to officers on July 7, 2020, offering the chance to apply for the new unit, city records revealed.
Also in 2020, Lightfoot proposed an $80 million cut to the Chicago Police Department’s budget amid nationwide calls to “defund the police,” City Bureau reported.
The internal recruitment memo in 2020 said, “The unit’s mission will be to provide physical security for City Hall, the mayor’s residence and the mayor’s detail command post. Through the coordination of intelligence and resources, officers will respond to all threats related to the mayor’s physical properties to ensure its protection.”
To qualify for Lightfoot’s security detail, officers were required to have at least five years of experience, as well as “experience in providing security and property protection services.”
Lightfoot said the massive security detail was justified due to “a significant amount of protests” that “targeted” her house.
“There wasn’t kind of a unified command of the [officers] who were in City Hall, at my house and my [bodyguard] detail,” she said. “The first floor of City Hall was one chain of command, the second floor was different chain of command, the fifth floor [where the mayor’s office is located] was a different chain of command, the house was different and the [bodyguard] detail was different.”
“We thought, and this is way before the protests or anything else, it just didn’t make sense. Because, you know, if there was some kind of emergency at City Hall, for example, the right hand wouldn’t necessarily know what the left hand was doing because they all reported to different chains of command,” the mayor continued.
“And then obviously, in 2020 in particular, there were a significant amount of protests all over the city, and some of them targeted at my house. All the more reason why having a unified command to understand and share intelligence and be ready to respond if there was any kind of threat was very important.”